Request Innocent Spouse Relief: Filing IRS Form 8857 & Letters
It’s extremely important to request innocent spouse relief correctly the first time. If your request is denied, you may face issues applying for this type of relief again for the specific years you requested it. It is a good idea to file as soon as you become aware of the taxes owed that you feel your spouse owes. Before you file, make sure you meet the requirements of one of the types of spouse relief.
- Innocent Spouse Relief Requirements
- Relief by Separation of Liability Requirements
- Equitable Relief Requirements
The filing process is generally the same for all three of these categories. The only difference is how you answer the questions and the information you provide about your situation.
Before you fill out the forms, go through the requirements for each type of relief. Jot down notes on why you meet the various requirements. Then, use those notes as you are filling out the forms. These forms all have lots of questions designed to make sure you meet the requirements.
IRS Form 8857 (Request for Innocent Spouse Relief)
This is a seven-page form to request innocent spouse relief. There are many questions asking about your situation and how you specifically meet the requirements. The IRS even asks questions on your education and professional experience. This information is mainly used to determine if you are educated enough or have had enough business experience to know if something was wrong with your tax filing.
You may need to attach additional documents to support your claims. Be very careful when filling out this form. If you answer a single question incorrectly, the IRS may reject your request.
You generally must file form 8857 no later than 2 years after the IRS tries to collect from you (exception: equitable relief). Here are some collection activities by the IRS that start the 2-year period:
- Your income tax refund was offset by a joint tax return liability and the IRS let you know via a letter you can file form 8857
- If the IRS filed a claim in court in which you were a party or court proceeding involved your property. This includes filing a proof of claim in a bankruptcy proceeding.
- The U.S. filing a suit against you to collect on the joint tax liability.
- You receive Letter 11, Letter 1058, or another section 6330 notice which tells you of IRS’s intent to levy and your right to a collection due process (CDP) hearing.
Innocent Spouse Relief Letter
A letter is required if you were a victim of abuse from your spouse/ex-spouse. Even if the letter is not required, it can help to strengthen your case.
Some parts of Form 8857 don’t leave enough room for explanations. A letter gives you space to provide more details on why you should qualify for innocent spouse relief.
You should also provide documents to support the claims in the letter. For example, if you were a victim of abuse, doctor notes, and police reports can help.
Where to Send Request for Innocent Spouse Relief
Once you have completed everything, send your documents to the following locations.
If you are sending your documents through the United States postal service, use this address:
Internal Revenue Service
PO BOX 120053
Covington, KY 41012
If you are using a private carrier such as UPS or FedEx, send your request to:
Internal Revenue Service
201 W. Rivercenter Blvd., Stop 840F
Covington, KY 41011
If you have access to a fax, you can fax form 8857 and your attachments to the IRS at 1-855-233-8558. It is a good idea to put your social security number and name on any attachments you send.
When You Should Not File Form 8857
There are certain situations when you should not file for relief using form 8857. Here are some examples:
- “No” is your answer to the first question on Form 8857
- You entered into a closing agreement already with the IRS for the same tax liability you are requesting relief for
- You entered into an Offer in Compromise with the IRS
- In a final decision, a court did not review whether to grant you relief from joint tax liability. However, you participated meaningfully and you did not ask for relief
- In a final court decision, the court did review whether to grant you relief from joint tax liability but did not approve it.
If you are looking for assistance in requesting innocent spouse relief, you can find tax professionals that have experience by starting your search below. At TaxCure, we have a network of professionals from around the country with diverse backgrounds and specialties. You can start your search by selecting the agencies or agencies you have a problem with. You will then be able to select "Innocent Spouse Relief" as a solution to see the top-rated pros who have experience doing these filings.