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How the 'innocent spouse' defense can work for you

If you are divorcing, you may discover secrets about your soon-to-be ex-spouse, that may set you aflame with anger. Indeed, extra-marital affairs, and illegitimate children can complicate things, but these might be the least of your worries. You might also find that your ex has been cheating on your tax returns for years, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is trying to hold you jointly liable.

If you wonder how this could be, consider this: signing one’s tax return is a requirement, and it is legally an affirmation that you know and understand the contents of the return, even if you had little if anything to do in preparing it. For spouses, as well as ex-spouses who are caught in this dilemma, they may be able to apply the “innocent spouse” defense.

Essentially, spouses who were not involved in the preparation of joint returns can petition for equitable relief, so that they will not be held liable for the actions of an unscrupulous spouse. There are several reasons why the IRS grants this relief. Some spouses would not have any reason, or the means, to dispute the numbers they were informed of in the return, if they were informed of them at all. Also, spouses who were in abusive relationships were likely in the same situation; basically without any voice in making decisions about proper deductions.

In these situations, it is helpful to have an experienced attorney to craft an appeal to suit what IRS examiners are looking for in a petition for relief. An experienced family law attorney could consult with a tax attorney so that you may receive the assistance you need. 

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