Innocent Spouse


IRS Definition

Innocent spouse relief provides you relief from additional tax you owe if your spouse or former spouse failed to report income, reported income improperly or claimed improper deductions or credits.

More from H&R Block

When you file a joint tax return with your spouse, you and your spouse are liable jointly and individually for the taxes owed. Basically, this means you’re responsible as a couple and as individuals for the entire tax bill.

If you believe that only your spouse should be responsible for the taxes, you can request innocent spouse relief from the IRS. Most of the time, people request innocent spouse relief when the IRS has assessed additional taxes because of an audit or CP2000 notice.

Generally, you must prove to the IRS that the taxes you owe on your joint return resulted from actions your spouse was responsible for. You also need to show that when you signed the return, you didn’t know, and had no reason to know, about the tax you should have owed. In addition, you must show that, considering all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you responsible.

There are multiple versions of innocent spouse relief, and it can be complicated to request. It’s a good idea to get expert help. Learn about H&R Block Tax Audit & Tax Notice Services or make an appointment for a free consultation.

Get help from an IRS expert

H&R Block’s experts can solve any IRS problem, no matter how complex.

Make an appointment

Or call 855-536-6504

Related Information

How to Avoid IRS Liens and Levies

Liens and levies are tools the IRS uses to collect back taxes. Learn more about each one -- and how to avoid tax liens and levies by working with the IRS.

What To Do If You Can’t Pay Your Taxes

Learn about the different options when you can't pay or still owe money from a past return from the tax experts at H&R Block.

The Top 10 Consequences of Tax Debt

Learn what to do when you can’t pay your taxes – to avoid these 10 consequences of tax debt. Get the facts from the tax experts at H&R Block.