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Free tax prep Index A Actual knowledge Innocent spouse relief, Actual Knowledge or Reason To Know Separation of liability relief, Actual Knowledge Assistance (see Tax help) B Burden of proof, separation of liability, Burden of proof. Free tax prep C Comments on publication, Comments and suggestions. Free tax prep Community property law, relief from liability arising from, Community Property Laws Community property laws, Community Property Laws D Decedent, Form 8857 filed by or on behalf of a decedent. Free tax prep Domestic violence (separation of liability), Exception for spousal abuse or domestic violence. Free tax prep E Equitable relief Conditions for getting, Conditions for Getting Equitable Relief Factors for determining whether to grant, Factors for Determining Whether To Grant Equitable Relief Refunds, Refunds Under Equitable Relief Erroneous items, Erroneous Items Executors (see Decedent) F Flowcharts, Flowcharts Form 8857 Filled-in example, Filled-in Form 8857 For decedent, Form 8857 filed by or on behalf of a decedent. Free tax prep Tax Court review, Tax Court Review of Request When to file, When to file Form 8857. Free tax prep Free tax services, How To Get Tax Help H Help (see Tax help) How to request relief, How To Request Relief I Indications of unfairness Innocent spouse relief, Indications of Unfairness for Innocent Spouse Relief Injured spouse relief, Publication 971 - Additional Material Innocent spouse relief, Innocent Spouse Relief J Joint and several liability, Publication 971 - Additional Material L Limitations on Relief, Limitations on Relief M More information (see Tax help) N No joint return filed, Relief for Married Persons Who Did Not File Joint Returns P Partial relief, innocent spouse relief, Partial relief when a portion of erroneous item is unknown. Free tax prep Publications (see Tax help) Q Questions & Answers, Publication 971 - Additional Material R Reason to know, Actual Knowledge or Reason To Know Refunds, Refunds Limit on amount of refund, Limit on Amount of Refund Proof required, Proof Required Under equitable relief, Refunds Under Equitable Relief S Separation of liability relief, Separation of Liability Relief Spousal abuse, The IRS Must Contact Your Spouse or Former Spouse, Exception for spousal abuse or domestic violence. Free tax prep Spousal notification, The IRS Must Contact Your Spouse or Former Spouse, Publication 971 - Additional Material Suggestions for publication, Comments and suggestions. Free tax prep T Tax Court review, Tax Court Review of Request Tax help, How To Get Tax Help Taxpayer Advocate, Taxpayer Advocate Service. Free tax prep TEFRA partnership proceedings, Exception for agreements relating to TEFRA partnership proceedings. Free tax prep Transferee liability, Transferee liability not affected by innocent spouse relief provisions. Free tax prep Transfers of property to avoid tax, Transfers of Property To Avoid Tax TTY/TDD information, How To Get Tax Help U Underpaid tax, Equitable Relief Understated tax, Understated Tax United States Tax Court, Tax Court Review of Request W When to file Form 8857, When to file Form 8857. Free tax prep Prev  Up     Home   More Online Publications
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Know Your Rights as a Car Owner

Sometimes a manufacturer makes a design or production mistake on a motor vehicle. A service bulletin notifies the dealer of the problem and how to resolve it. Because these free repairs are not publicized, they are called "secret warranties." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a database of service bulletins filed by manufacturers.

If you have a problem with a vehicle that is a safety hazard, check whether the manufacturer has recalled your vehicle. Click on Recalls or call NHTSA at 1-800-424-9393.Hazards that aren't listed should be reported to your dealer, the manufacturer of the vehicle, and NHTSA. If a safety-related defect exists, the maker must fix it at no cost to you-even if your warranty has expired.

If you have a vehicle with a unique problem that just never seems to get fixed, you may have a lemon. Some states have laws concerning lemons that require a refund or replacement if a problem is not fixed within a reasonable number of tries or if you haven't been able to use your vehicle for a certain number of days. Contact your local consumer protection office to learn whether you have such protections and what steps you must take to solve your problem. If you believe your car is a lemon:

  • Give the dealer a list of the problems every time you bring it in for repairs.
  • Get and keep copies of the repair orders listing the problems, the work done, and the dates the car was in the shop.
  • Contact the manufacturer, as well as the dealer, to report the problem. Check your owner's manual or the directory for the auto manufacturers.
  • Help other consumers avoid purchasing your lemon by registering it at safetyforum.com.

The Center for Auto Safety gathers information and complaints concerning safety defects, recalls, service bulletins and state lemon laws.

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Free tax prep Publication 971 - Main Content Table of Contents How To Request ReliefException for agreements relating to TEFRA partnership proceedings. Free tax prep The IRS Must Contact Your Spouse or Former Spouse Tax Court Review of Request Community Property LawsRelief for Married Persons Who Did Not File Joint Returns Innocent Spouse ReliefUnderstated Tax Erroneous Items Actual Knowledge or Reason To Know Indications of Unfairness for Innocent Spouse Relief Separation of Liability ReliefLimitations on Relief Equitable ReliefConditions for Getting Equitable Relief Factors for Determining Whether To Grant Equitable Relief RefundsProof Required Refunds Under Equitable Relief Limit on Amount of Refund Filled-in Form 8857 Flowcharts How To Request Relief File Form 8857 to ask the IRS for the types of relief discussed in this publication. Free tax prep If you are requesting relief for more than three tax years, you must file an additional Form 8857. Free tax prep The IRS will review your Form 8857 and let you know if you qualify. Free tax prep A completed Form 8857 is shown later. Free tax prep When to file Form 8857. Free tax prep   You should file Form 8857 as soon as you become aware of a tax liability for which you believe only your spouse or former spouse should be held responsible. Free tax prep The following are some of the ways you may become aware of such a liability. Free tax prep The IRS is examining your tax return and proposing to increase your tax liability. Free tax prep The IRS sends you a notice. Free tax prep   You must file Form 8857 no later than two years after the date on which the IRS first attempted to collect the tax from you that occurs after July 22, 1998. Free tax prep (But see the exceptions below for different filing deadlines that apply. Free tax prep ) For this reason, do not delay filing because you do not have all the documentation. Free tax prep   Collection activities that may start the 2-year period are: The IRS offset your income tax refund against an amount you owed on a joint return for another year and the IRS informed you about your right to file Form 8857. Free tax prep The filing of a claim by the IRS in a court proceeding in which you were a party or the filing of a claim in a proceeding that involves your property. Free tax prep This includes the filing of a proof of claim in a bankruptcy proceeding. Free tax prep The filing of a suit by the United States against you to collect the joint liability. Free tax prep The issuance of a section 6330 notice, which notifies you of the IRS' intent to levy and your right to a collection due process (CDP) hearing. Free tax prep The collection-related notices include, but are not limited to, Letter 11 and Letter 1058. Free tax prep Exception for equitable relief. Free tax prep   On July 25, 2011, the IRS issued Notice 2011-70 (available at www. Free tax prep irs. Free tax prep gov/irb/2011-32_IRB/ar11. Free tax prep html) expanding the amount of time to request equitable relief. Free tax prep The amount of time to request equitable relief depends on whether you are seeking relief from a balance due, seeking a credit or refund, or both: Balance Due – Generally, you must file your request within the time period the IRS has to collect the tax. Free tax prep Generally, the IRS has 10 years from the date the tax liability was assessed to collect the tax. Free tax prep In certain cases, the 10-year period is suspended. Free tax prep The amount of time the suspension is in effect will extend the time the IRS has to collect the tax. Free tax prep See Pub. Free tax prep 594, The IRS Collection Process, for details. Free tax prep Credit or Refund – Generally, you must file your request within 3 years after the date the original return was filed or within 2 years after the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. Free tax prep But you may have more time to file if you live in a federally declared disaster area or you are physically or mentally unable to manage your financial affairs. Free tax prep See Pub. Free tax prep 556, Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund, for details. Free tax prep Both a Balance Due and a Credit or Refund – If you are seeking a refund of amounts you paid and relief from a balance due over and above what you have paid, the time period for credit or refund will apply to any payments you have made, and the time period for collection of a balance due amount will apply to any unpaid liability. Free tax prep Exception for relief based on community property laws. Free tax prep   If you are requesting relief based on community property laws, a different filing deadline applies. Free tax prep See Relief from liability arising from community property law discussed later under Community Property Laws . Free tax prep Form 8857 filed by or on behalf of a decedent. Free tax prep   An executor (including any other duly appointed representative) may pursue a Form 8857 filed during the decedent's lifetime. Free tax prep An executor (including any other duly appointed representative) may also file Form 8857 as long as the decedent satisfied the eligibility requirements while alive. Free tax prep For purposes of separation of liability relief (discussed later), the decedent's marital status is determined on the earlier of the date relief was requested or the date of death. Free tax prep Situations in which you are not entitled to relief. Free tax prep   You are not entitled to innocent spouse relief for any tax year to which the following situations apply. Free tax prep In a final decision dated after July 22, 1998, a court considered whether to grant you relief from joint liability and decided not to do so. Free tax prep In a final decision dated after July 22, 1998, a court did not consider whether to grant you relief from joint liability, but you meaningfully participated in the proceeding and could have asked for relief. Free tax prep You entered into an offer in compromise with the IRS. Free tax prep You entered into a closing agreement with the IRS that disposed of the same liability for which you want to seek relief. Free tax prep Exception for agreements relating to TEFRA partnership proceedings. Free tax prep   You may be entitled to relief, discussed in (4) earlier, if you entered into a closing agreement for both partnership items and nonpartnership items, while you were a party to a pending TEFRA partnership proceeding. Free tax prep (TEFRA is an acronym that refers to the “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982” that prescribed the tax treatment of partnership items. Free tax prep ) You are not entitled to relief for the nonpartnership items, but you will be entitled to relief for the partnership items (if you otherwise qualify). Free tax prep Transferee liability not affected by innocent spouse relief provisions. Free tax prep   The innocent spouse relief provisions do not affect tax liabilities that arise under federal or state transferee liability or property laws. Free tax prep Therefore, even if you are relieved of the tax liability under the innocent spouse relief provisions, you may remain liable for the unpaid tax, interest, and penalties to the extent provided by these laws. Free tax prep Example. Free tax prep Herb and Wanda timely filed their 2008 joint income tax return on April 15, 2009. Free tax prep Herb died in March 2010, and the executor of Herb's will transferred all of the estate's assets to Wanda. Free tax prep In August 2010, the IRS assessed a deficiency for the 2008 return. Free tax prep The items causing the deficiency belong to Herb. Free tax prep Wanda is relieved of the deficiency under the innocent spouse relief provisions, and Herb's estate remains solely liable for it. Free tax prep However, the IRS may collect the deficiency from Wanda to the extent permitted under federal or state transferee liability or property laws. Free tax prep The IRS Must Contact Your Spouse or Former Spouse By law, the IRS must contact your spouse or former spouse. Free tax prep There are no exceptions, even for victims of spousal abuse or domestic violence. Free tax prep We will inform your spouse or former spouse that you filed Form 8857 and will allow him or her to participate in the process. Free tax prep If you are requesting relief from joint and several liability on a joint return, the IRS must also inform him or her of its preliminary and final determinations regarding your request for relief. Free tax prep However, to protect your privacy, the IRS will not disclose your personal information (for example, your current name, address, phone number(s), information about your employer, your income or assets) or any other information that does not relate to making a determination about your request for relief from liability. Free tax prep If you petition the Tax Court (explained below), your spouse or former spouse may see your personal information. Free tax prep Tax Court Review of Request After you file Form 8857, you may be able to petition (ask) the United States Tax Court to review your request for relief in the following two situations. Free tax prep The IRS sends you a final determination letter regarding your request for relief. Free tax prep You do not receive a final determination letter from the IRS within six months from the date you filed Form 8857. Free tax prep If you seek equitable relief for an underpaid tax, you will be able to get a Tax Court review of your request only if the tax arose or remained unpaid on or after December 20, 2006. Free tax prep The United States Tax Court is an independent judicial body and is not part of the IRS. Free tax prep You must file a petition with the United States Tax Court in order for it to review your request for relief. Free tax prep You must file the petition no later than the 90th day after the date the IRS mails its final determination notice to you. Free tax prep If you do not file a petition, or you file it late, the Tax Court cannot review your request for relief. Free tax prep You can get a copy of the rules for filing a petition by writing to the Tax Court at the following address:    United States Tax Court 400 Second Street, NW Washington, DC 20217 Or you can visit the Tax Court's website at www. Free tax prep ustaxcourt. Free tax prep gov Community Property Laws You must generally follow community property laws when filing a tax return if you are married and live in a community property state. Free tax prep Community property states are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Free tax prep Generally, community property laws require you to allocate community income and expenses equally between both spouses. Free tax prep However, community property laws are not taken into account in determining whether an item belongs to you or to your spouse (or former spouse) for purposes of requesting any relief from liability. Free tax prep Relief for Married Persons Who Did Not File Joint Returns Married persons who live in community property states, but who did not file joint returns, have two ways to get relief. Free tax prep Relief From Liability Arising From Community Property Law You are not responsible for the tax relating to an item of community income if all the following conditions exist. Free tax prep You did not file a joint return for the tax year. Free tax prep You did not include the item of community income in gross income. Free tax prep The item of community income you did not include is one of the following: Wages, salaries, and other compensation your spouse (or former spouse) received for services he or she performed as an employee. Free tax prep Income your spouse (or former spouse) derived from a trade or business he or she operated as a sole proprietor. Free tax prep Your spouse's (or former spouse's) distributive share of partnership income. Free tax prep Income from your spouse's (or former spouse's) separate property (other than income described in (a), (b), or (c)). Free tax prep Use the appropriate community property law to determine what is separate property. Free tax prep Any other income that belongs to your spouse (or former spouse) under community property law. Free tax prep You establish that you did not know of, and had no reason to know of, that community income. Free tax prep See  Actual Knowledge or Reason To Know , below. Free tax prep Under all facts and circumstances, it would not be fair to include the item of community income in your gross income. Free tax prep See Indications of unfairness for liability arising from community property law, later. Free tax prep Actual knowledge or reason to know. Free tax prep   You knew or had reason to know of an item of community income if: You actually knew of the item of community income, or A reasonable person in similar circumstances would have known of the item of community income. Free tax prep Amount of community income unknown. Free tax prep   If you are aware of the source of the item of community income or the income-producing activity, but are unaware of the specific amount, you are considered to know or have reason to know of the item of community income. Free tax prep Not knowing the specific amount is not a basis for relief. Free tax prep Reason to know. Free tax prep   The IRS will consider all facts and circumstances in determining whether you had reason to know of an item of community income. Free tax prep The facts and circumstances include: The nature of the item of community income and the amount of the item relative to other income items. Free tax prep The financial situation of you and your spouse (or former spouse). Free tax prep Your educational background and business experience. Free tax prep Whether the item of community income represented a departure from a recurring pattern reflected in prior years' returns (for example, omitted income from an investment regularly reported on prior years' returns). Free tax prep Indications of unfairness for liability arising from community property law. Free tax prep   The IRS will consider all of the facts and circumstances of the case in order to determine whether it is unfair to hold you responsible for the understated tax due to the item of community income. Free tax prep   The following are examples of factors the IRS will consider. Free tax prep Whether you received a benefit, either directly or indirectly, from the omitted item of community income (defined below). Free tax prep Whether your spouse (or former spouse) deserted you. Free tax prep Whether you and your spouse have been divorced or separated. Free tax prep  For other factors see Factors for Determining Whether To Grant Equitable Relief later. Free tax prep Benefit from omitted item of community income. Free tax prep   A benefit includes normal support, but does not include de minimis (small) amounts. Free tax prep Evidence of a direct or indirect benefit may consist of transfers of property or rights to property, including transfers received several years after the filing of the return. Free tax prep   For example, if you receive property, including life insurance proceeds, from your spouse (or former spouse) and the property is traceable to omitted items of community income attributable to your spouse (or former spouse), you are considered to have benefitted from those omitted items of community income. Free tax prep Equitable Relief If you do not qualify for the relief described above and are now liable for an underpaid or understated tax you believe should be paid only by your spouse (or former spouse), you may request equitable relief (discussed later). Free tax prep How and When To Request Relief You request relief by filing Form 8857, as discussed earlier. Free tax prep Fill in Form 8857 according to the instructions. Free tax prep For relief from liability arising from community property law, you must file Form 8857 no later than 6 months before the expiration of the period of limitations on assessment (including extensions) against your spouse for the tax year for which you are requesting relief. Free tax prep However, if the IRS begins an examination of your return during that 6-month period, the latest time for requesting relief is 30 days after the date the IRS' initial contact letter to you. Free tax prep The period of limitation on assessment is the amount of time, generally three years, that the IRS has from the date you filed the return to assess taxes that you owe. Free tax prep Innocent Spouse Relief 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. Free tax prep Generally, the tax, interest, and penalties that qualify for relief can only be collected from your spouse (or former spouse). Free tax prep However, you are jointly and individually responsible for any tax, interest, and penalties that do not qualify for relief. Free tax prep The IRS can collect these amounts from either you or your spouse (or former spouse). Free tax prep You must meet all of the following conditions to qualify for innocent spouse relief. Free tax prep You filed a joint return. Free tax prep There is an understated tax on the return that is due to erroneous items (defined later) of your spouse (or former spouse). Free tax prep You can show that when you signed the joint return you did not know, and had no reason to know, that the understated tax existed (or the extent to which the understated tax existed). Free tax prep See Actual Knowledge or Reason To Know, later. Free tax prep Taking into account all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understated tax. Free tax prep See Indications of Unfairness for Innocent Spouse Relief , later. Free tax prep Innocent spouse relief will not be granted if the IRS proves that you and your spouse (or former spouse) transferred property to one another as part of a fraudulent scheme. Free tax prep A fraudulent scheme includes a scheme to defraud the IRS or another third party, such as a creditor, former spouse, or business partner. Free tax prep Understated Tax You have an understated tax if the IRS determined that your total tax should be more than the amount that was actually shown on your return. Free tax prep Erroneous Items Erroneous items are either of the following. Free tax prep Unreported income. Free tax prep This is any gross income item received by your spouse (or former spouse) that is not reported. Free tax prep Incorrect deduction, credit, or basis. Free tax prep This is any improper deduction, credit, or property basis claimed by your spouse (or former spouse). Free tax prep The following are examples of erroneous items. Free tax prep The expense for which the deduction is taken was never paid or incurred. Free tax prep For example, your spouse, a cash-basis taxpayer, deducted $10,000 of advertising expenses on Schedule C of your joint Form 1040, but never paid for any advertising. Free tax prep The expense does not qualify as a deductible expense. Free tax prep For example, your spouse claimed a business fee deduction of $10,000 that was for the payment of state fines. Free tax prep Fines are not deductible. Free tax prep No factual argument can be made to support the deductibility of the expense. Free tax prep For example, your spouse claimed $4,000 for security costs related to a home office, which were actually veterinary and food costs for your family's two dogs. Free tax prep Actual Knowledge or Reason To Know You knew or had reason to know of an understated tax if: You actually knew of the understated tax, or A reasonable person in similar circumstances would have known of the understated tax. Free tax prep Actual knowledge. Free tax prep   If you actually knew about an erroneous item that belongs to your spouse (or former spouse), the relief discussed here does not apply to any part of the understated tax due to that item. Free tax prep You and your spouse (or former spouse) remain jointly liable for that part of the understated tax. Free tax prep For information about the criteria for determining whether you actually knew about an erroneous item, see Actual Knowledge later under Separation of Liability Relief. Free tax prep Reason to know. Free tax prep   If you had reason to know about an erroneous item that belongs to your spouse (or former spouse), the relief discussed here does not apply to any part of the understated tax due to that item. Free tax prep You and your spouse (or former spouse) remain jointly liable for that part of the understated tax. Free tax prep   The IRS will consider all facts and circumstances in determining whether you had reason to know of an understated tax due to an erroneous item. Free tax prep The facts and circumstances include: The nature of the erroneous item and the amount of the erroneous item relative to other items. Free tax prep The financial situation of you and your spouse (or former spouse). Free tax prep Your educational background and business experience. Free tax prep The extent of your participation in the activity that resulted in the erroneous item. Free tax prep Whether you failed to ask, at or before the time the return was signed, about items on the return or omitted from the return that a reasonable person would question. Free tax prep Whether the erroneous item represented a departure from a recurring pattern reflected in prior years' returns (for example, omitted income from an investment regularly reported on prior years' returns). Free tax prep Partial relief when a portion of erroneous item is unknown. Free tax prep   You may qualify for partial relief if, at the time you filed your return, you had no knowledge or reason to know of only a portion of an erroneous item. Free tax prep You will be relieved of the understated tax due to that portion of the item if all other requirements are met for that portion. Free tax prep Example. Free tax prep At the time you signed your joint return, you knew that your spouse did not report $5,000 of gambling winnings. Free tax prep The IRS examined your tax return several months after you filed it and determined that your spouse's unreported gambling winnings were actually $25,000. Free tax prep You established that you did not know about, and had no reason to know about, the additional $20,000 because of the way your spouse handled gambling winnings. Free tax prep The understated tax due to the $20,000 will qualify for innocent spouse relief if you meet the other requirements. Free tax prep The understated tax due to the $5,000 of gambling winnings you knew about will not qualify for relief. Free tax prep Indications of Unfairness for Innocent Spouse Relief The IRS will consider all of the facts and circumstances of the case in order to determine whether it is unfair to hold you responsible for the understated tax. Free tax prep The following are examples of factors the IRS will consider. Free tax prep Whether you received a significant benefit (defined below), either directly or indirectly, from the understated tax. Free tax prep Whether your spouse (or former spouse) deserted you. Free tax prep Whether you and your spouse have been divorced or separated. Free tax prep Whether you received a benefit on the return from the understated tax. Free tax prep For other factors, see Factors for Determining Whether To Grant Equitable Relief later under Equitable Relief. Free tax prep Significant benefit. Free tax prep   A significant benefit is any benefit in excess of normal support. Free tax prep Normal support depends on your particular circumstances. Free tax prep Evidence of a direct or indirect benefit may consist of transfers of property or rights to property, including transfers that may be received several years after the year of the understated tax. Free tax prep Example. Free tax prep You receive money from your spouse that is beyond normal support. Free tax prep The money can be traced to your spouse's lottery winnings that were not reported on your joint return. Free tax prep You will be considered to have received a significant benefit from that income. Free tax prep This is true even if your spouse gives you the money several years after he or she received it. Free tax prep Separation of Liability Relief Under this type of relief, the understated tax (plus interest and penalties) on your joint return is allocated between you and your spouse (or former spouse). Free tax prep The understated tax allocated to you is generally the amount you are responsible for. Free tax prep This type of relief is available only for unpaid liabilities resulting from the understated tax. Free tax prep Refunds are not allowed. Free tax prep To request separation of liability relief, you must have filed a joint return and meet either of the following requirements at the time you file Form 8857. Free tax prep You are no longer married to, or are legally separated from, the spouse with whom you filed the joint return for which you are requesting relief. Free tax prep (Under this rule, you are no longer married if you are widowed. Free tax prep ) You were not a member of the same household (explained below) as the spouse with whom you filed the joint return at any time during the 12-month per- iod ending on the date you file Form 8857. Free tax prep Members of the same household. Free tax prep   You and your spouse are not members of the same household if you are living apart and are estranged. Free tax prep However, you and your spouse are considered members of the same household if any of the following conditions are met. Free tax prep You and your spouse reside in the same dwelling. Free tax prep You and your spouse reside in separate dwellings but are not estranged, and one of you is temporarily absent from the other's household as explained in (3) below. Free tax prep Either spouse is temporarily absent from the household and it is reasonable to assume that the absent spouse will return to the household, and the household or a substantially equivalent household is maintained in anticipation of the absent spouse's return. Free tax prep Examples of temporary absences include absence due to imprisonment, illness, business, vacation, military service, or education. Free tax prep Burden of proof. Free tax prep   You must be able to prove that you meet all of the requirements for separation of liability relief (except actual knowledge) and that you did not transfer property to avoid tax (discussed later). Free tax prep You must also establish the basis for allocating the erroneous items. Free tax prep Limitations on Relief Even if you meet the requirements discussed previously, separation of liability relief will not be granted in the following situations. Free tax prep The IRS proves that you and your spouse (or former spouse) transferred assets to one another as part of a fraudulent scheme. Free tax prep A fraudulent scheme includes a scheme to defraud the IRS or another third party, such as a creditor, former spouse, or business partner. Free tax prep The IRS proves that at the time you signed your joint return, you had actual knowledge (explained below) of any erroneous items giving rise to the deficiency that were allocable to your spouse (or former spouse). Free tax prep For the definition of erroneous items, see Erroneous Items earlier under Innocent Spouse Relief. Free tax prep Your spouse (or former spouse) transferred property to you to avoid tax or the payment of tax. Free tax prep See Transfers of Property To Avoid Tax , later. Free tax prep Actual Knowledge The relief discussed here does not apply to any part of the understated tax due to your spouse's (or former spouse's) erroneous items of which you had actual knowledge. Free tax prep You and your spouse (or former spouse) remain jointly and severally liable for this part of the understated tax. Free tax prep If you had actual knowledge of only a portion of an erroneous item, the IRS will not grant relief for that portion of the item. Free tax prep You had actual knowledge of an erroneous item if: You knew that an item of unreported income was received. Free tax prep (This rule applies whether or not there was a receipt of cash. Free tax prep ) You knew of the facts that made an incorrect deduction or credit unallowable. Free tax prep For a false or inflated deduction, you knew that the expense was not incurred, or not incurred to the extent shown on the tax return. Free tax prep Knowledge of the source of an erroneous item is not sufficient to establish actual knowledge. Free tax prep Also, your actual knowledge may not be inferred when you merely had a reason to know of the erroneous item. Free tax prep Similarly, the IRS does not have to establish that you knew of the source of an erroneous item in order to establish that you had actual knowledge of the item itself. Free tax prep Your actual knowledge of the proper tax treatment of an erroneous item is not relevant for purposes of demonstrating that you had actual knowledge of that item. Free tax prep Neither is your actual knowledge of how the erroneous item was treated on the tax return. Free tax prep For example, if you knew that your spouse received dividend income, relief is not available for that income even if you did not know it was taxable. Free tax prep Example. Free tax prep Bill and Karen Green filed a joint return showing Karen's wages of $50,000 and Bill's self-employment income of $10,000. Free tax prep The IRS audited their return and found that Bill did not report $20,000 of self-employment income. Free tax prep The additional income resulted in a $6,000 understated tax, plus interest and penalties. Free tax prep After obtaining a legal separation from Bill, Karen filed Form 8857 to request separation of liability relief. Free tax prep The IRS proved that Karen actually knew about the $20,000 of additional income at the time she signed the joint return. Free tax prep Bill is liable for all of the understated tax, interest, and penalties because all of it was due to his unreported income. Free tax prep Karen is also liable for the understated tax, interest, and penalties due to the $20,000 of unreported income because she actually knew of the item. Free tax prep The IRS can collect the entire $6,000 plus interest and penalties from either Karen or Bill because they are jointly and individually liable for it. Free tax prep Factors supporting actual knowledge. Free tax prep   The IRS may rely on all facts and circumstances in determining whether you actually knew of an erroneous item at the time you signed the return. Free tax prep The following are examples of factors the IRS may use. Free tax prep Whether you made a deliberate effort to avoid learning about the item in order to be shielded from liability. Free tax prep Whether you and your spouse (or former spouse) jointly owned the property that resulted in the erroneous item. Free tax prep Exception for spousal abuse or domestic violence. Free tax prep   Even if you had actual knowledge, you may still qualify for relief if you establish that: You were the victim of spousal abuse or domestic violence before signing the return, and Because of that abuse, you did not challenge the treatment of any items on the return because you were afraid your spouse (or former spouse) would retaliate against you. Free tax prep   If you establish that you signed your joint return under duress (threat of harm or other form of coercion), then it is not a joint return, and you are not liable for any tax shown on that return or any tax deficiency for that return. Free tax prep However, you may be required to file a separate return for that tax year. Free tax prep For more information about duress, see the instructions for Form 8857. Free tax prep Transfers of Property To Avoid Tax If your spouse (or former spouse) transfers property (or the right to property) to you for the main purpose of avoiding tax or payment of tax, the tax liability allocated to you will be increased by the fair market value of the property on the date of the transfer. Free tax prep The increase may not be more than the entire amount of the liability. Free tax prep A transfer will be presumed to have as its main purpose the avoidance of tax or payment of tax if the transfer is made after the date that is 1 year before the date on which the IRS sent its first letter of proposed deficiency. Free tax prep This presumption will not apply if: The transfer was made under a divorce decree, separate maintenance agreement, or a written instrument incident to such an agreement, or You establish that the transfer did not have as its main purpose the avoidance of tax or payment of tax. Free tax prep If the presumption does not apply, but the IRS can establish that the purpose of the transfer was the avoidance of tax or payment of tax, the tax liability allocated to you will be increased as explained above. Free tax prep Equitable Relief If you do not qualify for innocent spouse relief, separation of liability relief, or relief from liability arising from community property law, you may still be relieved of responsibility for tax, interest, and penalties through equitable relief. Free tax prep Unlike innocent spouse relief or separation of liability relief, you can get equitable relief from an understated tax (defined earlier under Innocent Spouse Relief ) or an underpaid tax. Free tax prep An underpaid tax is an amount of tax you properly reported on your return but you have not paid. Free tax prep For example, your joint 2009 return shows that you and your spouse owed $5,000. Free tax prep You paid $2,000 with the return. Free tax prep You have an underpaid tax of $3,000. Free tax prep Conditions for Getting Equitable Relief You may qualify for equitable relief if you meet all of the following conditions. Free tax prep You are not eligible for innocent spouse relief, separation of liability relief, or relief from liability arising from community property law. Free tax prep You have an understated tax or an underpaid tax. Free tax prep You did not pay the tax. Free tax prep However, see Refunds , later, for situations in which you are entitled to a refund of payments you made. Free tax prep You establish that, taking into account all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understated or underpaid tax. Free tax prep See Factors for Determining Whether To Grant Equitable Relief, later. Free tax prep You and your spouse (or former spouse) did not transfer assets to one another as a part of a fraudulent scheme. Free tax prep A fraudulent scheme includes a scheme to defraud the IRS or another third party, such as a creditor, former spouse, or business partner. Free tax prep Your spouse (or former spouse) did not transfer property to you for the main purpose of avoiding tax or the payment of tax. Free tax prep See Transfers of Property To Avoid Tax, earlier, under Separation of Liability Relief. Free tax prep You did not file or fail to file your return with the intent to commit fraud. Free tax prep The income tax liability from which you seek relief must be attributable to an item of the spouse (or former spouse) with whom you filed the joint return, unless one of the following exceptions applies: The item is attributable or partially attributable to you solely due to the operation of community property law. Free tax prep If you meet this exception, that item will be considered attributable to your spouse (or former spouse) for purposes of equitable relief. Free tax prep If the item is titled in your name, the item is presumed to be attributable to you. Free tax prep However, you can rebut this presumption based on the facts and circumstances. Free tax prep You did not know, and had no reason to know, that funds intended for the payment of tax were misappropriated by your spouse (or former spouse) for his or her benefit. Free tax prep If you meet this exception, the IRS will consider granting equitable relief although the underpaid tax may be attributable in part or in full to your item, and only to the extent the funds intended for payment were taken by your spouse (or former spouse). Free tax prep You establish that you were the victim of spousal abuse or domestic violence before signing the return, and that, as a result of the prior abuse, you did not challenge the treatment of any items on the return for fear of your spouse's (or former spouse's) retaliation. Free tax prep If you meet this exception, relief will be considered although the understated tax or underpaid tax may be attributable in part or in full to your item. Free tax prep Factors for Determining Whether To Grant Equitable Relief The IRS will consider all of the facts and circumstances in order to determine whether it is unfair to hold you responsible for the understated or underpaid tax. Free tax prep The following are examples of factors that the IRS will consider to determine whether to grant equitable relief. Free tax prep The IRS will consider all factors and weigh them appropriately. Free tax prep Relevant Factors The following are examples of factors that may be relevant to whether the IRS will grant equitable relief. Free tax prep Whether you are separated (whether legally or not) or divorced from your spouse. Free tax prep A temporary absence, such as an absence due to imprisonment, illness, business, vacation, military service, or education, is not considered separation for this purpose. Free tax prep A temporary absence is one where it is reasonable to assume that the absent spouse will return to the household, and the household or a substantially equivalent household is maintained in anticipation of the absent spouse's return. Free tax prep Whether you would suffer a significant economic hardship if relief is not granted. Free tax prep (In other words, you would not be able to pay your reasonable basic living expenses. Free tax prep ) Whether you have a legal obligation under a divorce decree or agreement to pay the tax. Free tax prep This factor will not weigh in favor of relief if you knew or had reason to know, when entering into the divorce decree or agreement, that your former spouse would not pay the income tax liability. Free tax prep Whether you received a significant benefit (beyond normal support) from the underpaid tax or item causing the understated tax. Free tax prep (For a definition of significant benefit, see Indications of Unfairness for Innocent Spouse Relief earlier. Free tax prep ) Whether you have made a good faith effort to comply with federal income tax laws for the tax year for which you are requesting relief or the following years. Free tax prep Whether you knew or had reason to know about the items causing the understated tax or that the tax would not be paid, as explained next. Free tax prep Knowledge or reason to know. Free tax prep   In the case of an underpaid tax, the IRS will consider whether you did not know and had no reason to know that your spouse (or former spouse) would not pay the income tax liability. Free tax prep   In the case of an income tax liability that arose from an understated tax, the IRS will consider whether you did not know and had no reason to know of the item causing the understated tax. Free tax prep Reason to know of the item giving rise to the understated tax will not be weighed more heavily than other factors. Free tax prep Actual knowledge of the item giving rise to the understated tax, however, is a strong factor weighing against relief. Free tax prep This strong factor may be overcome if the factors in favor of equitable relief are particularly compelling. Free tax prep Reason to know. Free tax prep   In determining whether you had reason to know, the IRS will consider your level of education, any deceit or evasiveness of your spouse (or former spouse), your degree of involvement in the activity generating the income tax liability, your involvement in business and household financial matters, your business or financial expertise, and any lavish or unusual expenditures compared with past spending levels. Free tax prep Example. Free tax prep You and your spouse filed a joint 2009 return. Free tax prep That return showed you owed $10,000. Free tax prep You had $5,000 of your own money and you took out a loan to pay the other $5,000. Free tax prep You gave 2 checks for $5,000 each to your spouse to pay the $10,000 liability. Free tax prep Without telling you, your spouse took the $5,000 loan and spent it on himself. Free tax prep You and your spouse were divorced in 2010. Free tax prep In addition, you had no knowledge or reason to know at the time you signed the return that the tax would not be paid. Free tax prep These facts indicate to the IRS that it may be unfair to hold you liable for the $5,000 underpaid tax. Free tax prep The IRS will consider these facts, together with all of the other facts and circumstances, to determine whether to grant you equitable relief from the $5,000 underpaid tax. Free tax prep Factors Weighing in Favor of Equitable Relief The following are examples of factors that will weigh in favor of equitable relief, but will not weigh against equitable relief. Free tax prep Whether your spouse (or former spouse) abused you. Free tax prep Whether you were in poor mental or physical health on the date you signed the return or at the time you requested relief. Free tax prep Refunds If you are granted relief, refunds are: Permitted under innocent spouse relief as explained later under Limit on Amount of Refund . Free tax prep Not permitted under separation of liability relief. Free tax prep Permitted in limited circumstances under equitable relief, as explained under Refunds Under Equitable Relief. Free tax prep Proof Required The IRS will only refund payments you made with your own money. Free tax prep However, you must provide proof that you made the payments with your own money. Free tax prep Examples of proof are a copy of your bank statement or a canceled check. Free tax prep No proof is required if your individual refund was used by the IRS to pay a tax you owed on a joint tax return for another year. Free tax prep Refunds Under Equitable Relief In the following situations, you are eligible to receive a refund of certain payments you made. Free tax prep Underpaid tax. Free tax prep   If you are granted relief for an underpaid tax, you are eligible for a refund of separate payments that you made after July 22, 1998. Free tax prep However, you are not eligible for refunds of payments made with the joint return, joint payments, or payments that your spouse (or former spouse) made. Free tax prep For example, withholding tax and estimated tax payments cannot be refunded because they are considered made with the joint return. Free tax prep   The amount of the refund is subject to the limit discussed later under Limit on Amount of Refund. Free tax prep Understated tax. Free tax prep   If you are granted relief for an understated tax, you are eligible for a refund of certain payments made under an installment agreement that you entered into with the IRS, if you have not defaulted on the installment agreement. Free tax prep You are not in default if the IRS did not issue you a notice of default or take any action to end the installment agreement. Free tax prep Only installment payments made after the date you filed Form 8857 are eligible for a refund. Free tax prep   The amount of the refund is subject to the limit discussed next. Free tax prep Limit on Amount of Refund The amount of your refund is limited. Free tax prep Read the following chart to find out the limit. Free tax prep IF you file Form 8857. Free tax prep . Free tax prep . Free tax prep THEN the refund cannot be more than. Free tax prep . Free tax prep . Free tax prep Within 3 years after filing your return The part of the tax paid within 3 years (plus any extension of time for filing your return) before you filed Form 8857. Free tax prep After the 3-year period, but within 2 years from the time you paid the tax The tax you paid within 2 years immediately before you filed Form 8857. Free tax prep Filled-in Form 8857 This part explains how Janie Boulder fills out Form 8857 to request innocent spouse relief. Free tax prep Janie and Joe Boulder filed a joint tax return for 2007. Free tax prep They claimed one dependency exemption for their son Michael. Free tax prep Their return was adjusted by the IRS because Joe did not report a $5,000 award he won that year. Free tax prep Janie did not know about the award when the return was filed. Free tax prep They agreed to the adjustment but could not pay the additional amount due of $815 ($650 tax + $165 penalty and interest). Free tax prep Janie and Joe were divorced on May 13, 2009. Free tax prep In February 2010, Janie filed her 2009 federal income tax return as head of household. Free tax prep She expected a refund of $1,203. Free tax prep In May 2010, she received a notice informing her that the IRS had offset her refund against the $815 owed on her joint 2007 income tax return and that she had a right to file Form 8857. Free tax prep Janie applies the conditions listed earlier under Innocent Spouse Relief to see if she qualifies for relief. Free tax prep Janie meets the first and second conditions because the joint tax return they filed has an understated tax due to Joe's erroneous item. Free tax prep Janie believes she meets the third condition. Free tax prep She did not know about the award and had no reason to know about it because of the secretive way Joe conducted his financial affairs. Free tax prep Janie believes she meets the fourth condition. Free tax prep She believes it would be unfair to be held liable for the tax because she did not benefit from the award. Free tax prep Joe spent it on personal items for his use only. Free tax prep Because Janie believes she qualifies for innocent spouse relief, she first completes Part I of Form 8857 to determine if she should file the form. Free tax prep In Part I, she makes all entries under the Tax Year 1 column because she is requesting relief for only one year. Free tax prep Part I Line 1. Free tax prep   She enters “2007” on line 1 because this is the tax year for which she is requesting relief. Free tax prep Line 2. Free tax prep   She checks the box because she wants a refund. Free tax prep Note. Free tax prep Because the IRS used her individual refund to pay the tax owed on the joint tax return, she does not need to provide proof of payment. Free tax prep Line 3. Free tax prep   She checks the “No” box because the IRS did not use her share of a joint refund to pay Joe's past-due debts. Free tax prep Line 4. Free tax prep   She checks the “Yes” box because she filed a joint tax return for tax year 2007. Free tax prep Line 5. Free tax prep   She skips this line because she checked the “Yes” box on line 4. Free tax prep Part II Line 6. Free tax prep   She enters her name, address, social security number, county, and best daytime phone number. Free tax prep Part III Line 7. Free tax prep   She enters Joe's name, address, social security number, and best daytime phone number. Free tax prep Line 8. Free tax prep   She checks the “divorced since” box and enters the date she was divorced as “05/13/2009. Free tax prep ” She attaches a copy of her entire divorce decree (not Illustrated) to the form. Free tax prep Line 9. Free tax prep   She checks the box for “High school diploma, equivalent, or less,” because she had completed high school when her 2007 joint tax return was filed. Free tax prep Line 10. Free tax prep   She checks the “No” box because she was not a victim of spousal abuse or domestic violence. Free tax prep Line 11. Free tax prep   She checks the “No” box because neither she nor Joe incurred any large expenses during the year for which she wants relief. Free tax prep Line 12. Free tax prep   She checks the “Yes” box because she signed the 2007 joint tax return. Free tax prep Line 13. Free tax prep   She checks the “No” box because she did not have a mental or physical condition when the return was filed and does not have one now. Free tax prep Part IV Line 14. Free tax prep   Because she was not involved in preparing the return, she checks the box, “You were not involved in preparing the returns. Free tax prep ” Line 15. Free tax prep   She checks the box, “You did not know anything was incorrect or missing” because she did not know that Joe had received a $5,000 award. Free tax prep She explains this in the space provided. Free tax prep Line 16. Free tax prep   She checks the box, “You knew that person had income” because she knew Joe had income from wages. Free tax prep She also lists Joe's income. Free tax prep Under “Type of Income” she enters “wages. Free tax prep ” Under “Who paid it to that person,” she enters the name of Joe's employer, “Allied. Free tax prep ” Under “Tax Year 1” she enters the amount of Joe's wages, “$40,000. Free tax prep ” Because she is only requesting relief for one tax year, she leaves the entry spaces for “Tax Year 2” and “Tax Year 3” blank. Free tax prep Line 17. Free tax prep   She checks the “No” box because she did not know any amount was owed to the IRS when the 2007 return was signed. Free tax prep Line 18. Free tax prep   She checks the “No” box because, when the return was signed, she was not having financial problems. Free tax prep Line 19. Free tax prep   She checks the box, “You were not involved in handling money for the household” because Joe handled all the money for the household. Free tax prep She provides additional information in the space provided. Free tax prep Line 20. Free tax prep   She checks the “No” box because Joe has never transferred money or property to her. Free tax prep Part V Line 21. Free tax prep   She enters the number “1” on both the line for “Adults” and the line for “Children” because her current household consists of herself and her son. Free tax prep Line 22. Free tax prep   She enters her average monthly income for her entire household. Free tax prep Line 23. Free tax prep   She lists her assets, which are $500 for the fair market value of a car, $450 in her checking account, and $100 in her savings account. Free tax prep Signing and mailing Form 8857. Free tax prep    Janie signs and dates the form. Free tax prep She attaches the copy of her divorce decree (not illustrated) required by line 8. Free tax prep Finally, she sends the form to the IRS address or fax number shown in the instructions for Form 8857. Free tax prep This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Free tax prep Please click the link to view the image. Free tax prep Boulder's filled-in Form 8857 page 1 This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Free tax prep Please click the link to view the image. Free tax prep Boulder's filled-in Form 8857 page 2 This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Free tax prep Please click the link to view the image. Free tax prep Boulder's filled-in Form 8857 page 3 This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Free tax prep Please click the link to view the image. Free tax prep Boulder's filled-in Form 8857 page 4 Flowcharts The following flowcharts provide a quick way for determining whether you may qualify for relief. Free tax prep But do not rely on these flowcharts alone. Free tax prep Also read the earlier discussions. Free tax prep Figure A. Free tax prep Do You Qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief? Please click here for the text description of the image. Free tax prep "Do You Qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief?" Figure B. Free tax prep Do You Qualify for Separation of Liability Relief? Please click here for the text description of the image. Free tax prep "Do You Qualify for Separation of Liability Relief?" Figure C. Free tax prep Do You Qualify for Equitable Relief? This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Free tax prep Please click the link to view the image. Free tax prep "Do You Qualify for Equitable Relief?" Prev  Up  Next   Home   More Online Publications