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Eligibility For Equitable Relief


Taxpayers who don’t qualify for innocent spouse relief are not automatically out of luck. In fact, there are a few different options for those who are trying to avoid being held responsible for a spouse’s tax debt, so if you received a notice from the IRS of a tax debt for which you are not responsible, you should consider speaking with an experienced Florida unfiled tax attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you accordingly.

Qualifying for Equitable Relief

To qualify for equitable relief, a person must be able to establish that it would be unfair to hold him or her accountable for a spouse’s understatement or underpayment of tax. The former occurs when the amount of tax that should have been shown on a person’s return is different from the amount of tax that was actually reported. An underpayment of tax, on the other hand, occurs when taxpayers properly report what they owe on their returns, but fail to pay the entirety of the amount. If, for instance, a tax return shows that taxpayers owe $5,000, but a couple only pays $2,000, then the parties have an  underpayment of $3,000.

Conditions for Obtaining Equitable Relief

Taxpayers will generally qualify for equitable relief if they can prove that they meet the following conditions:

  • They aren’t eligible for innocent spouse relief or another form of tax relief;
  • They and their spouse (or former spouse) didn’t transfer assets to the other in an attempt to defraud the IRS or another third party;
  • Their spouse, or former spouse, didn’t transfer property to them to avoid paying the tax;
  • They didn’t file, or fail to file, their return with the intent to commit fraud;
  • They didn’t pay the tax; and
  • It would be unfair to hold them liable for the understatement or underpayment of tax.

Finally, the income tax debt from which a taxpayer is seeking relief must have been attributable to a spouse, or former spouse, with whom he or she filed a joint return.

Factors Used in Determining Whether to Grant Equitable Relief

When determining whether a petitioner has satisfied these conditions, the IRS will consider the facts and circumstances of the person’s case, including whether:

  • The petitioner and his or her spouse are separated or divorced;
  • The petitioner would be able to pay reasonable basic living expenses if relief isn’t granted;
  • The petitioner’s former spouse is legally obligated under a divorce decree to pay the tax;
  • The petitioner received a significant benefit from the unpaid tax;
  • The petitioner has made a good faith effort to comply with federal tax law; and
  • The petitioner knew that a former spouse wouldn’t pay the tax liability.

For help determining how these factors could apply in your own case, please call our office today.

Speak with an Experienced Unfiled Tax Attorney

If your spouse failed to pay taxes for your family and the IRS has sought repayment from you, you could qualify for tax-related spouse relief. Please call 386-490-9949 to speak with dedicated unfiled tax attorney Ronald Cutler, P.A. about your options.