How Do I Qualify For Injured Spouse Relief?
To be eligible for injured spouse relief, you must completely fill out and submit IRS Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, and wait for the IRS to review your submission before they make a decision on whether or not, you are able to get your refund back.
Injured Spouse vs. Innocent Spouse
An injured spouse is an individual who has filed jointly with a spouse and received no refund because their spouse owed a debt that is being collected by the IRS and some or all of their refund was applied to that debt.
The IRS and/or Bureau of Fiscal Service (BFS) typically takes the refunds and apply them to the unpaid debt if a married couple files a joint return and one spouse has a delinquent tax or other debt that could be collected through a tax refund. If only one spouse owes the debt, the other spouse is an injured spouse because they didn’t get their share of the refund.
If a married couple files a joint return and one spouse underreports income or overreports deductions, the IRS will penalize both taxpayers on the joint return to collect the money, even if they are no longer married to each other. This individual may be considered the innocent spouse.
What If I Didn't File As An Injured Spouse And The IRS Already Took A Portion Of My Refund?
If the IRS has already taken a portion of your tax refund, you can claim your refund check as an injured spouse by filing Form 8379: Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation. Based on the tax payments you made and the proportion of any credits you received, the IRS will determine how much of the refund is yours.
Steps On How To File For Injured Spouse Relief
1. Completely Fill Out & Submit Form 8379
Taxpayers are able to download IRS Form 8379 directly from the IRS website. You'll then be guided step-by-step through the procedure. Make sure to attach all copies of the 1099 forms as well as your W-2s, including your spouse's and yours. Although it's not necessary for your spouse to sign the form, you must be sure to include their Social Security Number.
In the IRS Form 8379 consists of four parts:
Part I is a series of yes-or-no questions to determine whether someone really is an injured spouse and, if so, how to proceed
Part II provides information about the joint return that produced the refund in question
Part III is for determining exactly how much of the refund is contributed to the injured spouse and should be released by the IRS
Part IV is where the injured spouse signs and dates this section
2. Waiting For The IRS To Decide Whether Or Not You're Qualified For Injured Spouse Relief
The IRS will review your submission and determine whether you meet all the rules for injured spouse relief.
If an injured spouse files Form 8379 along with the couple’s joint tax return, it takes about 14 weeks (11 weeks if the return is filed electronically) for the injured spouse allocation request to be processed. If Form 8379 is filed after the joint return is processed, the request will be processed in roughly eight weeks because there is no return processing time.
3. Getting Your Refund Back
If your request has been approved, you'll get a portion of the refund equal to the portion of the taxes you personally paid on the tax return you filed. Regardless of the amount of the existing debt, you'll be able to receive 50% of the refund.
IRS Fresh Start Program
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