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Innocent Spouse Relief, Separation of Liability and Equitable Relief

February 14, 2022

This may not be top of mind for many taxpayers, but U.S. married taxpayers who file tax returns jointly are also “jointly and severally liable” for the tax, interest and penalties even if there is a subsequent divorce, even if one spouse earned all income or even if one spouse claimed deductions or credits they were not entitled to.  Innocent Spouse Relief provides relief from additional tax owed by the failure of one spouse or former spouse to report items correctly, but this relief has a statutory period of 2 years from the date of IRS attempt to collect the tax.  Two other types of relief for “Separation of Liability Relief” and “Equitable Relief” are described on this IRS topic last updated on January 24, 2022. 

Topic No. 205 Innocent Spouse Relief (Including Separation of Liability and Equitable Relief) | Internal Revenue Service (

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