Did 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.