You should never have to be held accountable for the tax mistakes of another person. Despite this, some taxpayers find themselves facing IRS fines and even criminal exposure due to the actions of their spouse. When this happens, an experienced IRS collections attorney might be able to help.

If you currently face tax debt or liabilities due to your spouse’s tax fraud or failure to properly file their returns, you might be able to secure relief. A Rockville innocent spouse relief lawyer knows the steps you need to take to inform the IRS of your innocence.

What is Innocent Spouse Relief?

When a taxpayer files a joint return with their spouse, they are obligated, both jointly and individually, to pay any tax debt that accrues. They are also on the hook for back taxes, fees, fines, or penalties that are applied to that return. The penalties can be significant if the IRS determines that tax fraud or evasion has occurred. It is unfair for a spouse who was entirely unaware of the errors or falsehoods in their tax return to face liability for these violations.

Innocent spouse relief exists to help individuals who find themselves in this situation. This relief only exists to support innocent spouses – anyone who was aware of, or participated in, fraud or the failure to file taxes is not eligible. Any tax debt resulting from a return filed jointly during a marriage is still a debt to each ex-spouse after the marriage.

Owing taxes, penalties, and fees are more than just an unfortunate accounting issue. The IRS could take actions to collect that debt from the couple, including levying bank accounts or placing a lien on real property. There could even be criminal consequences if the action was deemed intentional. In these situations, a taxpayer could make the case to the IRS that they were unaware of the actions and did not have a hand in furthering the deception. In some cases, the spouse could even be a direct victim of an act of fraud.

The IRS understands that these situations can arise and have set up a path for individuals to make their case that they should not bear the burden of these penalties. However, this status is not always granted. A Rockville innocent spouse relief attorney could assist an individual with identifying their eligibility and applying for this forgiveness.

Qualifying for Innocent Spouse Relief

Not every person facing IRS penalties or back taxes will be able to prove that they had no knowledge or participation in the activity. The critical aspect that the IRS looks for in these cases is being unaware of any wrongdoing. If a taxpayer had any idea that their spouse had filed a fraudulent or inaccurate joint return, they would not qualify for relief.

It is not enough for a taxpayer to claim they were unaware. The IRS will review their familiarity with the tax return, and if that spouse was heavily involved in the return or its problematic aspects, their application may be rejected. An innocent spouse relief lawyer could talk with an individual in Rockville and determine if they have a good case to make for their non-involvement.

Ultimately, a spouse must show that they had no reason to know about the error on the tax return and they must seek relief within two years of the IRS first attempting to collect the tax from the spouse.

Call a Rockville Innocent Spouse Relief Attorney When a Dispute Occurs

The IRS is thorough in its investigation of fraud claims. If you seek innocent spouse relief for the problematic tax return that you signed, it is vital that you have all the evidence you need to decouple yourself from your spouse’s actions. A Rockville innocent spouse relief lawyer could help you identify and present that evidence in your application. Reach out to us today to discuss your options moving forward.

Attorney John Pontius

Pontius Tax Law, PLLC is a tax law firm that strives to resolve sensitive tax problems through trust, dedication and value. The law firm was founded by John Pontius with offices in Washington, DC,  Rockville, MD, Bethesda, MD, Fairfax, VA, and Alexandria, VA. Mr. Pontius represents individual and business clients with sensitive and serious tax matters before the Internal Revenue Service and state taxing authorities. His client base is local, national, and international.

Over the course of his career, Mr. Pontius has represented businesses and individuals with complex tax issues in the following areas: FBAR examinations, offshore and domestic disclosures, FATCA, FIRPTA, tax planning, unfiled tax returns, release of tax liens and levies, trust fund recovery penalty, IRS and state audit examinations, as well as appeals, penalty abatement, U.S. Tax Court litigation, along with defense of tax fraud and evasion. If you require assistance from a tax lawyer, contact Mr. Pontius to discuss your situation.

Client Reviews
John helped us with a DC tax audit and succeeded in getting us a "no change" final decision. The issues were related to two flow-through entities and the use of carry-forward operating losses -- something that the DC auditors struggled to understand and with which they did not have any...
Paul A
Mr. Pontius is extremely professional and was able to take care of my tax returns which includes international bank accounts quickly and at a very reasonable price. Would definitely recommend.
I received a fee this past November from the IRS for over $800 because of an error I made on my 2016 taxes. I called my cousin, John Pontius, and he immediately knew what steps needed to be taken. Thanks to him, the fee was cleared. A 10 minute conversation...
As an American citizen living in the Middle East my local banker informed me that I needed to file FBARs and report my worldwide income to the IRS. Through the recommendation of another attorney at an international law firm, I was introduced to John Pontius. Mr. Pontius efficiently and effectively...
Kareem S
John handled a difficult IRS lien for my client. He was excellent in getting the lien released so we could close on the property. I would highly recommend John .
Bobbie M
We were seeking tax advice with managing two properties, LLC, as well as some future financial planning. John responded to my call in a timely manner and was happy to answer our questions while referring us to specialists who can manage our accounts on a more regular basis.
Janelle M
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