Myth: "If my spouse (or ex-spouse) improperly reported our taxes, I will be held liable for the tax, interest and penalties"
Answer: Thankfully, the IRS has a solution for this scenario. It's called the "Innocent Spouse Doctrine". The IRS website states that: "By requesting innocent spouse relief, you can be relieved of responsibility for paying tax, interest, and penalties if your spouse (or former spouse) improperly reported items or omitted items on your tax return. Generally, the tax, interest, and penalties that qualify for relief can only be collected from your spouse (or former spouse). You must meet all of the following conditions to qualify for innocent spouse relief:
- You filed a joint return which has an understatement of tax due to erroneous items (defined below) of your spouse (or former spouse).
- You establish that at the time you signed the joint return you did not know, and had no reason to know, that there was an understatement of tax.
- Taking into account all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understatement of tax.
Erroneous items are either of the following.
- Unreported income: This is any gross income item received by your spouse (or former spouse) that is not reported.
- Incorrect deduction, credit, or basis: This is any improper deduction, credit, or property basis claimed by your spouse (or former spouse)."