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How Long Do You Have to Request Innocent Spouse Relief?

Several factors can influence how long you have to file an innocent spouse relief request, including:

  • Which type of innocent spouse relief you are requesting
  • When you became aware of the tax liability that you are requesting relief from
  • If requesting equitable relief, whether you are seeking relief from a balance due or requesting a credit or refund

Typical Deadline for Innocent Spouse Relief

The most common case is that you have two years from the date you became aware of the tax liability to request innocent spouse relief. You can become aware of a tax liability in a few different ways.

First, the IRS can send you a notice about the tax liability. Your return can also be audited and the IRS can send a notice of adjustment.

The two-year period also starts if the IRS tries to collect the tax from you. This could involve a tax refund offset, any type of levy, the filing of a lawsuit, or the filing of a proof of claim in a bankruptcy case.

Even if you otherwise qualify for innocent spouse relief, you can become ineligible if you miss the two-year filing deadline. You can submit an innocent spouse relief request even if you don’t yet have all of the documentation to prove your case.

Extended Deadlines

If you are requesting equitable relief, extended deadlines may apply. Relief from a balance due can be requested as long as the IRS still has the ability to collect the tax. The IRS generally has ten years to collect tax, but this period can be suspended in certain situations. Any suspended periods will be added to the total time the IRS has to collect the tax.

If you are requesting equitable relief to seek a credit or refund, you must request innocent spouse relief by the later of:

  • Three years from the date you filed your tax return, or
  • Two years from the date you paid the tax

You can also use equitable relief to seek both a refund and relief from a balance due. More than one deadline may apply to your request in these cases.

Special circumstances may also warrant an exception from the usual deadlines. If you lived in a federally declared disaster area or you are physically or mentally unable to manage your finances, you may have more time to file.

Contact a tax attorney immediately if the IRS is trying to collect from you and you may be a candidate for innocent spouse relief.

The Gartzman Law Firm handles tax debt settlement, innocent spouse relief, and other tax resolution cases. Use our contact form to request a consultation with an Atlanta tax resolution attorney.