Separation of Liability Relief May Not Be Available to Spouses Who Are Not Legally Separated

When a married couple files a joint tax return that contains an understatement of tax, each spouse can typically be held “jointly and severally liable” for the tax debt. If one spouse is innocent, he or she may be able to obtain relief from this liability and have it separated. This separation of liability is generally meant for spouses who are no longer together. When the couple has been separated due to involuntary circumstances, however, this option may not be available.

Separation of Liability Due to Involuntary Separation

Separation of liability is available for taxpayers who are one of the following:

  • No longer married
  • Legally separated
  • Living apart for the 12 months prior to the filing of a claim

If the spouse is temporarily absent from the household, this does not constitute “living apart.” Examples of a temporary absence that would not count include separations due to:

  • military duty
  • incarceration
  • illness
  • business
  • vacation
  • education

The IRS considers a “temporary absence” to exist if it is reasonable to assume that the absent spouse will return to the household, or if a substantially equivalent household is maintained in anticipation of the spouse’s return.

When an innocent spouse is subjected to joint and several liability due to an understatement of tax, there are potential alternative solutions that may help to alleviate the burden. We have helped many clients in these situations. Learn how we have helped our past clients by checking out our client testimonials today.

Be the first to comment!
Post a Comment