When should I file Form 8857 if I am seeking innocent spouse relief from the IRS?

If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) comes after you for unpaid taxes, one form of an alternative solution to your problem is to seek relief Blue Sticky Note Reminding of an Important Datebased on a finding that you are an innocent spouse. To take advantage of this solution, you must file a Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, or Form 8857, with the IRS. This Form requires you to provide the IRS with certain applicable information in order to allow the service to make its determination.

Understanding When to File a Request for Innocent Spouse Relief

A crucial aspect of requesting innocent spouse relief is to ensure that your request is filed with the IRS at the appropriate time. Generally, the following are helpful guidelines regarding when to file Form 8857:

  1. As soon as you become aware of a tax liability for which you believe only your spouse should be responsible. Typically, you become aware of such liability when the IRS is examining your tax return and proposing to increase your tax liability. Another way in which you may become aware of the liability is when the IRS sends you written notice.
  2. No later than two years after the IRS first attempts to collect the tax from you.
  3. If you are requesting equitable relief, you may qualify for an extension of this time period during which you can file a request for innocent spouse relief.
  4. If you are seeking relief from a balance that is due, you must file your request within the time period the IRS has to collect the tax. Typically, this is 10 years from the date the tax liability was assessed.
  5. If you are seeking a credit or refund, you must file your request within three years after the date the original return was filed or within two years after the date the tax was paid, whichever is later.
  6. If you are seeking both relief from a balance due and a credit or refund, the time period for a credit or refund will apply to any payments that you made. The time period for collection of a balance due amount applies to any unpaid liability.
  7. If you are requesting an exception for relief based on community property laws, you must file your request no later than six months before the expiration of the period of limitations for assessment against your spouse for the tax year for which you are requesting relief. Generally, the period of limitations is three years.

Dealing with tax issues is never an easy process. Arming yourself with knowledge can help you obtain a solution that works for you. To get started learning more about tax issues, we encourage you to check out our free guide, The Ultimate Guide for IRS Problems.