Married couples usually have two filing options: Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately. In most cases Married Filing Jointly provides more tax benefits compared to Married Filing Separately, but the general rule is that both spouses are equally responsible for any potential tax liabilities.
The IRS has specific forms to help spouses in some situations where they may be “on the hook” for their spouse’s prior or current tax liabilities that are not related to their marriage.
The Innocent Spouse Relief provides relief from additional taxes if the spouse or former spouse failed to report income, reported income improperly or claimed improper deductions or credits. This is also frequently used with ex-spouses.
The Injured Spouse claim covers the injured spouse’s share of any refund if it is being applied against their spouse’s past-due federal tax, state tax, child or spousal support, or federal non-tax debt (such as a student loan). This form is usually used for couples who are still married but have tax liabilities that were incurred prior to the marriage.
When filing either form, it is important to gather all pertinent information to ensure the proper form is filed based on the couple’s circumstances.