Innocent Spouse Relief

Innocent Spouse is an IRS tax relief program through which a spouse can claim ignorance of an understatement of due taxes and get relief from a joint tax debt, including penalties and interest.

Couples filing jointly are held equally responsible for the return and the payment of appropriate taxes. In some cases, one spouse has underestimated the tax liability and, unknowingly, the other spouse signed the return. The innocent spouse may not be responsible for paying the additional taxes and penalties.


The rules governing the application of the Innocent Spouse solution include the following:

  • The innocent spouse did not know there was an understatement of taxes and would have no reason to know that there was an understatement of taxes.
  • All or some of the understatement was the responsibility of, and can be attributed to, the liable spouse.
  • It would be unjust to hold the innocent spouse responsible for the actions of the liable spouse.

Taxpayers must file for this IRS relief program within 24 months of the tax debt notice. Also, if the IRS can prove that both partners had knowledge of the understatement and misguided the IRS, they may take corrective action.

The IRS can take six months to review a claim for Innocent Spouse. During this time, your spouse (current or former) that you filed with is notified of your Innocent Spouse claim. A partner who is held liable for the outstanding tax debt can appeal the IRS’ decision.