Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Till Death or (Section) 6015(e)(4) Do Us Part

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Till Death or (Section) 6015(e)(4) Do Us Part

Article excerpt

The Tax Court recently decided an issue of first impression concerning innocent spouse relief, describing it as "a small but noticeable gap in the tax law": Does the right of a nonelecting spouse to intervene in an innocent spouse case continue after the nonelecting spouse's death? The court answered in the affirmative.

Section 6015 provides relief from joint and several liability arising from the filing of a joint return where one of the spouses did not know and had no reason to know of a deficiency on the return. The IRS cannot assert the deficiency against a taxpayer granted this relief but can enforce collection only from the other, nonelecting spouse. Section 6015(e)(4) gives the nonelecting spouse the unconditional right to become a party to the proceeding to determine whether to grant relief.

The IRS determined that the 1999 joint return of Robert and Suzanne Fain reflected a deficiency of approximately $15,000. Following the couple's separation, Mrs. Fain asked the IRS for innocent spouse relief in 2006. When her request was denied, she filed a petition with the Tax Court. …

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