Female victim of financial abuse by spouse crying

Taxpayers have the right to request relief from any liability that may be shown on a joint tax return. This what is defined by the IRS as innocent spouse relief. Years ago, the IRS would not usually grant innocent spouse relief based on domestic abuse unless the abuse included documented physical violence. However, in the last few years, the IRS made changes to its Revenue Procedures to recognize and explain that domestic abuse is not only defined as involving psychological, sexual, emotional abuse but that it frequently presents itself in the form of control over the victim’s finances.

Many times, in domestic abuse situations, the spouse who makes the most money utilizes that asset to further trap the victim. In this case, the abuser frequently sets limits on the victim’s access to money. The absence of financial resources is a common reason that domestic abuse survivors do not attempt to divorce or separate from a violent spouse.

The IRS has confirmed that it would consider the role that abuse plays when evaluating the historical factors for deciding innocent spouse relief. Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service reminds individuals of some of their rights that are relevant to such cases:

  • Taxpayers have the right to file a separate tax return even if they are still married and have not filed for divorce from their spouse.
  • Before signing a joint tax return, taxpayers have the right to review the entire return.
  • Taxpayers have the right to review supporting documents for a return that is filed jointly.
  • A spouse has the right to refuse to sign a joint return.
  • Taxpayers may also request more time to file their return.
  • Independent legal advice from a lawyer of their choosing is also recommended and well within the rights of all taxpayers. Read more….

Learn more about the author, Vivian Hoard