If you filed your taxes jointly with your spouse, and separated or divorced shortly afterward, the IRS will pursue one or both of you for any money owed. However, if you’re stuck with a huge tax bill as the result of fraud perpetrated by your ex-spouse without your knowledge, you may be eligible to file an “Innocent Spouse” claim with the authorities, Only an experienced tax lawyer can tell you whether this is a viable strategy in your case.
You Must Meet Certain Basic Requirements to Make an Innocent Spouse Claim
The IRS doesn’t allow just anyone to file an Innocent Spouse claim; you have to meet the following requirements:
- You filed a joint tax return with your spouse.
- Your spouse either failed to report income, or took a deduction he wasn’t entitled to.
- There was no transfer of property or assets between you and your spouse at the time the return was filed.
- When you signed the joint return, you didn’t know—or had no reason to know—that your spouse understated your tax bill.
- It would be unfair to hold you, rather than your spouse, responsible for any taxes owed.
The “Innocent Spouse” Defense Requires You to Be Truly Innocent
As you may have inferred from the above list, the IRS can be very skeptical when dealing with an “innocent spouse” claim. The hoop you have to jump through is to prove, beyond an IRS revenue officer’s reasonable doubt, that you truly had no idea that your spouse had filled out your joint return incorrectly or fraudulently, and that you did not in any way benefit from this mistake or fraud. Needless to say, an “innocent spouse” claim will be taken more seriously if you are separated or divorced from your spouse, or if he or she has deserted you.
Only an Experienced Tax Lawyer Should Press an Innocent Spouse Claim
While it’s possible to file an Innocent Spouse claim without any representation, this is a bad idea, since it invites the IRS to pry even further into your finances (to establish, for example, that you did not benefit from a fraudulent joint return or that your ex-spouse did not transfer any assets to you before it was filed). If you live in the state of Oklahoma and believe yourself to be an innocent spouse, call the law firm of Travis W. Watkins, PC today for a free consultation!