innocent spouse relief

Qualifying for IRS Innocent Spouse Relief

When married taxpayers file jointly, which is often done because of certain benefits available to couples filing jointly, both taxpayers are jointly and severally liable for the tax and any additions to tax, interest, or penalties that arise from the joint return, even if their marriage is later dissolved. Joint and several liability means that each taxpayer is legally responsible for the entire liability.

Thus, both spouses on a married filing jointly return are generally held responsible for all the tax due even if one spouse earned all the income or erroneously claimed deductions. This is true notwithstanding the provisions of a divorce decree regarding a former spouse’s responsibility for any taxes due on previously filed joint returns. However, in rare cases, a spouse may obtain relief from joint and several liability.

New Highway Bill Gives IRS New Collection Tools

In December 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST).

In December 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST). Provisions included in this bill authorize the State Department to deny or revoke passports for individuals with delinquent tax debt of more than $50,000. The bill also resurrects the IRS private debt collection program and requires the IRS to use third-party entities to collect tax debt under limited circumstances. The IRS contracted with private debt collection agencies from 2006 to 2009, but then at the end of this period insisted it could more efficiently collect the debt itself, thus ending the private program. 

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