Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Expanded Innocent Spouse Relief

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Expanded Innocent Spouse Relief

Article excerpt

IRC section 6015 allows certain taxpayers to claim relief from joint tax liability if they qualify as an innocent spouse. There are strict qualification rules. Recently the Tax Court allowed a taxpayer to raise the issue even though she failed to meet all the qualifications.

Dorothy Clark was married to Edward Wenner. He died in 1988. Following his death, the IRS audited the couple's joint returns for 1982 to 1984, assessing $11,500 in additional tax and $24,000 in interest. Clark paid the tax but not the interest. In 1997 she asked the IRS to abate the interest. It denied the request in 1999. She filed suit in the Tax Court claiming the IRS had abused its discretion under IRC section 6404 in not approving her abatement request and asking for relief of liability as an innocent spouse under section 6015. The IRS objected to the court considering her innocent spouse petition on the grounds it was not filed properly.

Result. For the taxpayer--in a case of first impression. Normally, to obtain innocent spouse relief, a taxpayer must comply with the requirements of section 6015, which include filing a timely election, receiving a denial of the request and then filing a timely petition with the Tax Court. Based solely on section 6015, Clark was not entitled to innocent spouse relief because she had failed to meet the requirements, including filing a timely innocent spouse petition with the Tax Court. …

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