Innocent Spouse Relief

What Is Innocent Spouse Relief?

Innocent Spouse Relief relieves you from paying any penalties, interest or taxes for which your spouse is ultimately responsible for. For instance, this relief applies if your spouse (or former spouse) omitted or improperly reported items on your joint tax return without your knowledge. Therefore, you are not liable for penalties, interest or taxes on the misreported or unreported items on the returns. However, this must be approved by the IRS. The IRS may also relieve you from some but not all of the responsibility for the misreported taxes. So, you are responsible for paying whatever fees apply to the portion the IRS did not approve for relief. The IRS will calculate for you what fees you are and are not responsible for. But first, you must file the form for Innocent Spouse Relief (IRS Form 8857).

What Types Of Tax Returns Does Innocent Spouse Relief Apply To?

Per the IRS, Innocent Spouse Relief only applies to individual or self-employment taxes. It does not apply to business taxes, household employment taxes, individual shared responsibility payments or trust fund recovery penalty employment taxes.

How Can I Qualify For Innocent Spouse Relief?

According to the IRS, you must meet the following conditions to qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief:

What Counts As Unreported Income?

Unreported income is any gross income that is not reported by your spouse (or former spouse).


For example:

What Counts As Incorrect Deduction, Credit Or Basis?


This is any improper deduction, credit, or property basis claimed by your spouse (or former spouse).


For example:

What Counts As Reason To Know?

The IRS will look into whether you had any actual knowledge of the misreported or omitted taxes. If you did not, they will determine if you are telling the truth by whether or not there is a basis for you to be unaware.



According to the IRS:


“The IRS will consider all facts and circumstances in determining whether you had reason to know of an understatement of tax due to an erroneous item. The facts and circumstances include:

In addition to figuring out whether or not you had actual knowledge or reason to know of the misreported tax return, the IRS will also determine whether or not it is fair to hold you liable for the return.


The following are examples of factors the IRS will consider whether:

Next Steps:

Claiming Innocent Spouse Relief can often be tricky and may require further assistance from a tax professional in order to receive approval for a claim. To find out if claiming Innocent Spouse Relief is best for your situation, give us a call and we can guide you through on how to best file a claim. We will also inform you of any other alternative options to relieve you of your tax liability. Check out the page for tax problem resolution that we have to offer.

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