When you file a joint income tax return, the law makes both you and your spouse responsible for the entire tax liability. This is called joint and several liability. Joint and several liability applies not only to the tax liability you show on the return but also to any additional tax liability the IRS determines to be due, even if the additional tax is due to the income, deductions, or credits of your spouse or former spouse. You remain jointly and severally liable for taxes, and the IRS still can collect from you, even if you later divorce and the divorce decree states that your former spouse will be solely responsible for the tax.
If you believe that only your spouse or former spouse should be held responsible for all or part of the tax, you can request relief from the tax liability, plus related penalties and interest. To request relief, you must file Form 8857. The IRS will use the information you provide on the form and any attachments to determine if you are eligible for relief. There four types of relief are available. They are:
- Innocent spouse relief
- Separation of liability relief
- Equitable relief
- Relief from liability arising from community property law
Each type has specific criteria by which the IRS will grant relief. If you need assistance completing Form 8857 or if you have been denied relief contact Paul to discuss your situation by clicking here.