When married couples file joint tax returns, they typically assume that they are jointly responsible for any tax liabilities that may arise. However, there are cases where one spouse may be unfairly burdened by tax issues resulting from the actions of their partner. In these situations, the IRS provides a form of tax relief known as innocent spouse relief. This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the innocent spouse rule, the criteria for eligibility, and the steps to apply for IRS Innocent Spouse Relief with the expert assistance of Start Fresh Tax Relief.

What is IRS Innocent Spouse Relief?

Innocent spouse relief is a provision by the IRS that allows a spouse to seek relief from tax liabilities that they believe should be the sole responsibility of their partner. This tax relief can help protect individuals from paying taxes, interest, and penalties that resulted from the actions or omissions of their spouse. To learn more about IRS innocent spouse relief, refer to the IRS Publication 971.

Types of Innocent Spouse Relief

There are three main types of relief available under the innocent spouse rule:

  1. Innocent Spouse Relief: This relief is for spouses who did not know or have reason to know that their partner understated or underpaid their tax liability on a joint return. To qualify, the spouse must prove that they were unaware of the errors when they signed the joint return.
  2. Separation of Liability Relief: This relief allows separated or divorced spouses to allocate tax liabilities, interest, and penalties between themselves, according to their individual responsibility. To qualify, the spouse must be legally separated, divorced, or living apart from their partner for at least 12 months before applying for relief.
  3. Equitable Relief: If a spouse does not qualify for innocent spouse relief or separation of liability relief, they may still be eligible for equitable relief. This form of relief is granted when the IRS deems it unfair to hold a spouse responsible for tax liabilities, considering all the facts and circumstances. Equitable relief is available for both underpayments and understatements of tax.

Eligibility Criteria for Innocent Spouse Relief

To qualify for IRS innocent spouse relief, you must meet the following conditions:

  1. You filed a joint tax return with an understatement of tax resulting from erroneous items attributable to your spouse.
  2. At the time you signed the joint return, you did not know or have reason to know about the understatement.
  3. Considering all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understatement.
  4. You and your spouse have not transferred assets to one another as part of a fraudulent scheme.
  5. You apply for innocent spouse relief within two years from the date the IRS first attempted to collect the tax.

How Start Fresh Tax Relief Can Help

Navigating the complexities of the innocent spouse rule and the application process can be overwhelming. Start Fresh Tax Relief’s team of IRS tax specialists is here to guide you through the entire process, ensuring that you understand your options and helping you maximize your chances of obtaining relief. Our services include:

  1. Assessing your eligibility for IRS innocent spouse relief, separation of liability relief, or equitable relief.
  2. Preparing and submitting IRS Form 8857, the Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, on your behalf.
  3. Crafting a detailed written statement explaining why you believe you qualify for innocent spouse relief and providing supporting evidence.
  4. Communicating with the IRS on your behalf and responding to any requests for additional information or documentation.
  5. Assisting with appeals if your initial request for innocent spouse relief is denied, ensuring that your case is thoroughly reviewed and reconsidered by the IRS.

Additional Support and Services from Start Fresh Tax Relief

At Start Fresh Tax Relief, we understand that dealing with tax issues can be a daunting experience, and our goal is to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible for our clients. In addition to assisting with innocent spouse relief and other tax resolution options, we also offer a range of services designed to provide comprehensive support throughout your tax journey:

  1. Tax Planning and Preparation: Proper tax planning and accurate return preparation are crucial to avoid future tax problems. Our team of tax professionals will work with you to develop tax strategies tailored to your unique financial situation and ensure that your tax returns are prepared accurately and filed on time.
  2. Audit Representation: If you are facing an IRS audit, Start Fresh Tax Relief can provide professional representation to help you navigate the audit process. Our team will work closely with you to review your tax records, develop a strategy to address any discrepancies and communicate with the IRS on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.
  3. Tax Education and Consultation: Knowledge is power, and understanding tax laws and regulations can help you make informed decisions that benefit your financial well-being. Start Fresh Tax Relief offers personalized tax education and consultation services, empowering you with the information and tools needed to effectively manage your taxes and avoid future issues.
  4. State Tax Issues: In addition to federal tax matters, Start Fresh Tax Relief can assist with state tax issues. Our team is well-versed in state tax laws and regulations, ensuring that you receive the guidance and support needed to address any state tax liabilities or concerns.


Navigating tax issues can be complex and stressful, particularly when you feel unfairly burdened by your spouse’s actions or omissions. The IRS innocent spouse relief offers a path to alleviate some of this burden and protect your financial well-being. By understanding the innocent spouse rule and the eligibility criteria, you can determine if this relief is appropriate for your situation. With the expert assistance of Start Fresh Tax Relief, you can confidently navigate the application process and ensure your case receives the attention it deserves.

If you are unsure about your eligibility or need assistance filing your claim, don’t hesitate to contact Start Fresh Tax Relief. Our team of experienced tax professionals is ready to help you explore your options and work towards a fair resolution of your tax liabilities.