When you file a joint income tax return, the law makes both you and your spouse responsible for the entire tax liability.
This is called joint and
several liability. Joint and several liability applies not only to the tax liability you show on the return but also to any
additional tax liability
the IRS determines to be due, even if the additional tax is due to income, deductions, or credits of your spouse or former
spouse. You remain jointly
and severally liable for the taxes, and the IRS still can collect from you, even if you later divorce and the divorce decree
states that your former
spouse will be solely responsible for the tax.
In some cases, a spouse (or former spouse) will be relieved of the tax, interest, and penalties on a joint tax return. Three
types of relief are
available to married persons who filed joint returns.
Innocent spouse relief.
Separation of liability relief.
Married persons who did not file joint returns, but who live in community property states, may also qualify for relief. See
This publication explains these types of relief, who may qualify for them, and how to get them. You can also use the Innocent
Spouse Tax Relief
Eligibility Explorer at
www.irs.gov to see if you qualify for innocent spouse relief. Click on
“Individuals,” “Tax Information for Innocent Spouses,” and “Explore if you are an Eligible Innocent Spouse.”
What this publication does not cover.
This publication does not
discuss injured spouse
relief. You are an injured spouse if your share of the overpayment shown on
your joint return was, or is expected to be, applied (offset) against your spouse's legally enforceable past-due federal taxes,
state income taxes,
child or spousal support payments, or a federal nontax debt, such as a student loan. If you are an injured spouse, you may
be entitled to receive a
refund of your share of the overpayment. For more information, get Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.
Comments and suggestions.
We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:
Internal Revenue Service
Individual Forms and Publications Branch
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224
We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number,
including the area code, in
You can email us at
. (The asterisk must be included in the
address.) Please put “Publications Comment
” on the subject line. Although we cannot respond individually to each email, we do appreciate your
feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
Ordering forms and publications.
to download forms and publications, call 1-800-829-3676, or write to the address below until May 19, 2008, and
receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.
National Distribution Center
P.O. Box 8903
Bloomington, IL 61702-8903
After May 19, 2008, use the following address:
Internal Revenue Service
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway
Bloomington, IL 61704-6613
Questions about innocent spouse relief.
The IRS can help you with your request for innocent spouse relief. If you are working with an IRS employee, you can ask that
employee, or you can