As a general rule, we do not hold people accountable for the wrongdoing of someone else. This is true even if you happen to be married to the wrongdoer and you filed taxes jointly with that individual.
In many marriages, one partner makes more money than the other and has more access to information regarding the family’s financial status. However, when filing taxes jointly, the spouse who does not have access to that information may still be unaware that wrongdoing occurred in the filing of the taxes. Under such circumstances, the IRS could refer to you as an innocent spouse.
According to the IRS, an innocent spouse is an individual that:
- Filed taxes jointly where an understatement occurs due to misinformation provided by the other spouse or former spouse
- The spouse can demonstrate they had no reason to know that such an understatement occurred
- It would be unfair to hold that spouse liable for such an understatement
- There was no fraudulent scheme between the two spouses (such as transferring of property)
As an innocent spouse, you can request relief from paying any interest or penalties regarding improperly reported or omitted information on the tax returns. The IRS allows innocent spouses in Michigan to seek such relief through the filing of Form 8857. In seeking such relief, you are not required to figure out the amount of tax you are responsible for. However, as the IRS provides a process for calculating this amount, taxpayers will likely wish to know what they do owe.
While this may all seem simple enough in theory, establishing innocence may prove to be challenging. Therefore, it can prove helpful to seek the assistance of an experienced tax attorney who understands what the IRS is looking for. Unfortunately, missteps in this process could expose you to tax liability.