In order to take advantage of tax savings, married couples usually file joint tax returns. Occasionally, the joint income tax return is prepared by either the husband or the wife and the other spouse just signs the tax return. Sometimes, the spouse who prepared the joint return, intentionally hides important financial facts from the other spouse and as a result the joint tax return understates the couple’s income or is otherwise inaccurate. Because each spouse signs the joint tax return, husband and wife are both responsible for any taxes owed on the joint return. Occasionally, years later and usually when the couple has already divorced, the spouse who was not involved in the preparation of the joint tax return receives a tax bill and learns from the IRS that he or she owes taxes relating to the joint tax return. All the usual tax debt collection tools at the disposal of the IRS including tax lien, tax levy or seizure and garnishment of wage, salary or bank account may be used by the IRS to collect on this tax debt.
The Internal Revenue Code (Tax Code) contains a provision known as the “innocent spouse” rule which provides relief to the spouse who was not involved in the preparation of the joint return and who did not know about the tax irregularity or any unreported income. This provision in the Tax Code is sometimes referred to as the “6015(b) relief” or “innocent spouse protection rule”. Proving to the IRS that you qualify for the innocent spouse relief is no easy matter. The Tax Code provides for specific conditions that must be satisfied before the IRS can provide liability relief under the “innocent spouse” rule.
If you have recently received an IRS notice of tax delinquency and believe that you may qualify as an “innocent spouse”, contact Kamyar Mehdiyoun, tax dispute attorney in Rockville, Maryland. We are a tax law firm specializing in tax controversy. We will negotiate with the IRS on your behalf and will help you reduce or eliminate your tax liability.