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How to avoid liability if your spouse filed taxes incorrectly

In Georgia, many married couples file their taxes jointly. In doing this, both spouses are accepting liability for the taxes. If the Internal Revenue Service finds something wrong with the filing or determines that penalties or interest must be paid, both spouses are on the hook. What happens, however, if you and your spouse get divorced after filing? 

The answer to that question depends on who did the filing. In many cases, one spouse will fill out the paperwork, even when filing jointly. While some divorced spouses are still held liable for taxes filed before the divorce, in some cases the person who was not involved in the actual process of filing can avoid liability.

There are three types of relief that a spouse trying to avoid liability can seek. The first is called separation of reliability relief. A person would seek this type of relief if a former spouse failed to report an item correctly on a joint tax return. If successful, this type of relief will allocate liability, and you will only have to pay what has been allocated to you.

The second type of relief is innocent spouse relief. This applies to both married and divorced couples and is used when a spouse wrongfully claimed deductions, did not report income or incorrectly reported income on a return. The spouse who did not file the taxes could seek relief from liability through innocent spouse relief.

The last type of relief is known as equitable relief. If you don't qualify for the first two options, equitable relief may help if something was reported incorrectly on your tax return and your spouse is responsible for the mistake.

Finding out that a current or former spouse made a mistake on your tax return can be a frightening and overwhelming experience. Fortunately, there are ways to find relief. For more information on seeking relief from tax liability, visit our innocent spouse claim page.

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