Taxpayers Who are Victims of Domestic Abuse Should Know Their Rights

Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

IRS Tax Tip 2017-62, October 19, 2017

Domestic abusePDF often includes control over finances. An important part of managing finances is understanding one’s tax rights. Taxpayers have the right to expect the IRS to consider facts and circumstances that might affect the individual’s taxes.

Taxpayers have the right to:

  • File a separate return even if they’re married.
  • Review the entire tax return before signing a joint return.
  • Review supporting documents for a joint return.
  • Refuse to sign a joint return.
  • Request more time to file their tax return.
  • Get copies of prior year tax returns from the IRS.
  • Seek independent legal advice.

Innocent Spouse

Taxpayers also have the right to request relief from the liability shown on a joint return. This is known as innocent spouse relief. Here are a couple of examples:

Example 1:

  • A taxpayer signs a joint return with their spouse.
  • The taxpayer thought their spouse paid all taxes due.
  • The IRS contacts the taxpayer because the taxes shown on the joint return were not paid.

Example 2:

  • The taxpayer signs a joint return with their spouse.
  • The taxpayer didn’t know about their spouse’s unreported income or erroneous deductions.
  • The IRS adjusted the taxes due because of their spouse’s improper items.

To apply for Innocent Spouse Relief, a taxpayer fills out Form 8857PDF, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief.

Injured Spouse

A taxpayer is considered an injured spouse if their share of overpayment on their joint tax return was or is expected to be applied against their spouse's past-due federal debts. These debts can include federal debts, state taxes, child support, and spousal support payments.

Taxpayers considered an injured spouse may be entitled to receive a refund for their share of the overpayment.

Here is an example of when a taxpayer would be considered an injured spouse. In this case, both of these apply to the situation:

  • The taxpayer filed a joint tax return with their spouse.
  • The entire refund was applied to the spouse’s back child support.

Taxpayers use Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, to compute their share of a joint tax refund.

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