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Injured Spouse Relief: Qualifications & How to Apply

April 21st, 2011 by Filed under: Filing Taxes

injured spouse reliefDid you file a tax return only to have your refund applied toward debt that your spouse owed? Or, you know your refund will be subject to your spouse’s debt, do you know what your rights are? If either of these scenarios relate to you, you are considered and injured spouse and you can do something to get your portion of the tax refund awarded to you.

Debts The IRS Can Withhold From Your Tax Refund

Debts that can be withheld from your tax return include the following:

  • Past due federal or state tax.
  • Past due child or spousal support payments.
  • Other federal non-tax debt including student loans.

How Do You Know If You Are An Injured Spouse?

According to the IRS website in order for you to qualify as an injured spouse you first must have filed a joint return with your spouse. Second, you must have reported taxable earnings that show you had income tax withheld during the tax year or paid estimate tax payments. You can also qualify if you were able to claim a tax refund credit including the child tax credit or an earned income credit.

Additionally, you must not be legally responsible for any of the past due amount. The money owed must either be linked to your spouse from before you were married or be solely their responsibility. If you owe the debt jointly, you will not qualify for the injured spouse tax relief.

What Else Do I Need To Know?

  • Special rules apply for some injured spouses, specifically those that live in a community property state. If you live in a community property state and believe you are an injured spouse, please refer to IRS publication 555 in order to understand your rights.
  • If you qualify as an injured spouse you are entitled to only a portion of what your joint tax return would have been.
  • You can file for injured spouse relief in one of two ways. If you know ahead of time that your return will be subject to paying off your spouse’s debt, you can file for the relief right with your tax return. You are also able to file for spousal relief after you have already submitted your return to the IRS.

What Forms Do I Need To Fill Out

In order to claim injured spouse tax relief you will need to fill out and file IRS form 8379 for injured spouse allocation. You can file the form either electronically or by mail. If you are filing a paper return and plan to include form 8379 with your return, the IRS asks that you write “Injured Spouse” in the upper top left corner of your 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ form.

If have already filed your tax return and are filing form 8379 by itself you will need to make sure that you include on the form both yours and your spouse’s social security numbers and list them in the same order that you listed them on your original return. Additionally, both parties must sign the form.

  • cathy

    If I fill out form 8379 and submit with my lease showing I moved out before signing return (it was an abusive relationship) and was bullied into signing knowing spouse owed the debt on return which he swore he would pay it and didnt (Federal and State) but got spouse to write letter and have it notorized that he is solely responsible for debt but now can get in contact to have him sign the form needing both signatures, will letter surfice as signature if submitted with form?

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  • Dennis

    There isn’t a line for the non-injured spouse signature. Are you sure both signatures are required?

  • Dennis

    There isn’t a line for the non-injured spouse signature. Are you sure both signatures are required?

  • amy braverman

    when the irs takes money from my new husbands taxes beacause i owe arears, where does the money the seize go? Is it to late to fill out an injured spouse form if they have already taken the money from his tax check?

  • john

    Amy you can file injury spouse and get the money back that is still owe to you the sooner the better

  • chris

    I filed for injured spouse this year . State took out money from my refund and have not received federal yet. Can I go back to the counties that took my refund and inform them about this.

  • Vicky

    I recieved a notice that our taxes ate going toward my past due student loans. My husband filled out and sent the injured spouse form. How long will it take to find out if we can get some of our taxes back or is there a number or some way of finding out?

  • trionna

    i too filed an IS form sent in 2/5 received 2/15 still being processed this is the second year i have had to file one last year i beleive it took about 7 or eight weeks this year i am on week 7 and it is still being processed so they say. it is very hard to get a straigt answer from the irs i have called everyday for the past two weeks and have gotten a different answer everytime. hince the reason i call everyday. it is not too late to file i always file after the offset. good luck

  • shea

    I filed with my husband, he owed and i didn’t know he owed anyone. But now I did the form, am I sure to get anything from the irs? I think its wrong for them to take all the money, they should only take the spouse that owes. I been praying and praying that i get my money but how long do i have to wait. Its been in process since march 18th…

  • marlon

    my wife became disabled three ago.she sent disablity forms to school loan to have debt dismissed..she hasnt worked in three yrs and gets a small disabilty check..Irs took half my taxes caused I filed jointly.I called school they admitted to getting disabilty form and said Dr. signature too old..I filed an injured spouse..will I het all my refund back?

  • Amy

    What number do you call to find out if they even got the paper work. I am on week 7 also. Thanks for any help you can give me.

  • http://www.backtaxeshelp.com Manny Davis

    You can call 1-800-829-1040. That is the general IRS number, they can probably look into it for you or connect you with the right person at the IRS.

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  • Stephanie

    I filed injured spouse husband owed for 2006 we weren’t married till 2012 irs took my refund anyway even half of my child tax credit! Did not receive a notice got a 1/4 of what I should have but their website says my refund is still being processed. who or what number can I call to speak to a live irs person.

  • Barb

    I have a situation where a couple did not get the relief from her back student loan debt. The IRS denied the injured spouse. Unfortunately, I did not see the IRS letter. Their income was high ~180,000. What I heard was that the IRS said the couple owed $8000. I don’t think the EA handling the couple did the thing. I don’t see why they would have been denied. Is there in rulings about why the IRS would deny the injured spouse request? This has really bugged me. I would have fought the IRS. Thank you

  • Stacey

    My ex owes 70,000 in back support, he is married (has been for 3 years) and he refuses to work on the books so his wife can claim injured spouse so the IRS don’t take their tax return. Is there anything I can do? How many years can they claim this?

    • AngryInjuredSpouse

      forever!!! thank god

      • Patti

        dead beat wife of course.


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