Tax Court Grants Innocent Spouse Relief to Husband

Posted on April 29, 2019

In a recent case, the Tax Court granted Innocent Souse Relief to the husband. Although the taxpayers had split up and lived in different states, they agreed to file a joint tax return for 2011. The tax return was prepared by the husband, an IRS Revenue Agent. The husband initially reported $5,811.00 in income earned by his wife on the tax return for 2011. However, when the wife reviewed the draft tax return, she stated that she only earned $1,182.00 in that year. As a result of her representation, the husband reduced the amount of income reported on the tax return by $4,628.00. The IRS subsequently mailed a Notice of Deficiency to the taxpayers alleging that they had failed to report $4,628.00 in taxable wages that the wife received in 2011. The husband filed a Petition in the United States Tax Court and sought Innocent Spouse Relief. The wife also filed a Petition in the Tax Court and argued that Innocent Spouse Relief should not be given to the husband. Internal Revenue Code Section 6015(c) generally allows a separated or divorced spouse to elect to limit the liability for any deficiency assessed with respect to a joint tax return if a portion of the deficiency is properly allocated to the other spouse. To be eligible for relief under Section 6015(c), the electing spouse must establish that 1. The spouse has filed a joint return for the year at issue; 2. The spouses were, at the time the election for relief was made, legally separated or divorced or had not been members of the same household at any time during the previous 12 months; 3. The election for relief was made after a deficiency was determined but not later than two years after the Commissioner began collection activities; and 4. The deficiency remains unpaid. However, if the electing spouse had actual knowledge at the time the tax return was signed that there was unreported income, that individual cannot obtain innocent spouse relief. After reviewing the facts in the case, the Tax Court held in favor of the husband and granted innocent spouse relief to him. What do you think?

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