How to File for Innocent Spouse Relief


A man shrugging while an angry woman looks on, representing innocent spouse relief

Steps to File For Innocent Spouse Relief

The IRS requires taxpayers to follow two steps to apply for innocent spouse relief:

  • Submit a completed Form 8857, Request of Innocent Spouse Relief
  • Attach a statement explaining why you qualify for relief

However, meeting these requirements is anything but simple. Form 8857 is long and requires detailed information about the tax returns at issue, you and your spouse, and your current financial situation.

There are also three types of innocent spouse relief. Each has its own criteria and certain types of relief have benefits that others do not.

Do You Qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief?

Innocent spouse relief can help taxpayers who owe tax debt on a joint return. There are three types of innocent spouse relief:

  • Traditional innocent spouse relief. You won’t be responsible for tax related to erroneous items that are solely attributable to your spouse.
  • Separation of liability relief. The tax liability is split up between you and your former spouse or spouse.
  • Equitable relief. You won’t be responsible for amounts from a joint return if it would be inequitable based on the facts and circumstances.

How Much Time Do I Have to File for Innocent Spouse Relief?

Typically, you have only two years to file a form 8857, starting on the date the IRS attempted to collect the tax from you. Even if you don’t have all the paperwork or evidence you need, you should be aware of this date and contact a tax attorney early on in the collections process.

Taxpayers seeking equitable relief have more time. You may have as long as the IRS has to collect the tax, which is generally 10 years from the date the tax was assessed.

Get Help Filing for Innocent Spouse Relief

A request for innocent spouse relief requires a lot of work. You don’t want to spend this much time completing paperwork if you aren’t eligible, and you don’t want to make mistakes that cause your request to get rejected.

Consult with a tax attorney to discuss your case for innocent spouse relief. If you don’t qualify, you may be able to use other tax relief strategies to resolve your tax problems. If you have a good case for innocent spouse relief, you can get help submitting your materials and improve your chances of filing a successful request.

Contact Ayar Law

Get free tax advice from a Michigan tax lawyer by contacting Ayar Law at 248-262-3400 today.

Venar Ayar, Esq.

Venar Ayar, Esq.

Attorney-at-Law, Master of Laws in Taxation
Principal and founder, Ayar Law

Venar is an award-winning tax attorney ranked as a Top Lawyer in the field of Tax Law. Mr. Ayar has a Master of Laws in Taxation – the highest degree available in tax, held by only a small number of the country’s attorneys.