Appeal an Innocent Spouse Determination

If you made an innocent spouse request that the IRS denied or didn’t fully allow, you can request an appeal if you meet these criteria:

  • You filed a Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief (PDF)
  • Your request concerns an unpaid tax reported on your return and/or the IRS determined additional tax
  • The IRS made a preliminary determination to deny relief or to grant partial or full relief

The IRS uses the following terms to identify the joint filers involved in an innocent spouse case:

Refer to Publication 971, Innocent Spouse Relief (PDF) for general information on types of relief and how to request them. For other useful information, visit:

Requesting spouse

If you meet the criteria above and are the requesting spouse, did you receive a letter notifying you that the IRS made a preliminary determination on your request for innocent spouse relief?

If you received a preliminary determination letter partially or fully disallowing your request for innocent spouse relief, the letter will:

Send your completed Form 12509 and any supporting information to the office that sent you the preliminary determination letter. Make sure you do this within the timeframe specified on the letter you received. Don’t send your completed form to an Appeals office. This will delay the processing of your case.

See Helpful information that may support relief below for help in preparing Form 12509.

If you didn’t receive a letter notifying you that the IRS made a preliminary determination on your request for relief, then the appeal provisions of the innocent spouse program don’t apply to you at this time.

For general innocent spouse information, refer to:

Helpful information that may support your appeal

When completing Form 12509, it’s best if you present your information in chronological order, give specific dates and provide documentation. To better understand the information and documentation that will support your position, refer to:

Non-Requesting Spouse

As the non-requesting spouse, you have certain rights related to the Appeals process in an innocent spouse case. You have the right to:

  • Object to any relief granted by Appeals where the requesting spouse appealed the IRS’s preliminary determination denying relief
  • Appeal the IRS’s preliminary determination to grant partial or full relief to the requesting spouse

Preliminary Letter Denies Relief

If the IRS issued a preliminary letter saying that relief was denied, both you and your spouse or former spouse remain responsible for the taxes, penalties and interest. You don’t need to take any action at that time. However, the requesting spouse may appeal this decision.

Did the requesting spouse appeal the decision?

You will be contacted and given the opportunity to participate if the requesting spouse appeals and Appeals makes a change to the preliminary determination.

  • If you don’t object to relief being granted, you don’t need to take any action
  • If you do object to relief being granted, you have 30 days from the time the Appeals Officer contacts you to present any additional information to support your objection.

If you don’t object to relief being granted to your spouse or former spouse, you don’t need to take any action.

Preliminary Letter Fully or Partially Grants Relief

The preliminary determination letter will state whether the IRS denied or granted relief (partially or in full). Please review the letter for instructions and if you still have questions, contact the examiner. The examiner’s name and phone number are on the letter you received.

In determining the innocent spouse issue, Appeals will rely on the information you and the requesting spouse provide. If you don’t participate, Appeals will make a determination based solely on the information the requesting spouse provided.

Do you object to relief being granted to your spouse or former spouse?

If you object to relief being granted to your spouse or former spouse, you have 30 days from the date of the preliminary determination letter to present any additional information to support your objection.

If you don’t object to relief being granted to your spouse or former spouse, you don’t need to take any action.

Tips for preparing your statement

When completing Form 12509, Statement of Disagreement (PDF), it’s best if you present your information in chronological order and give specific dates. To better understand the information and documentation that will support your position, refer to: