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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Innocent Spouse; Innocent Spouse Rule


Term Definition Innocent Spouse; Innocent Spouse Rule - section 434(c)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code protects an innocent spouse from tax fraud prosecution under certain conditions.
Application in Divorce This rule, which was revised under the 1998 I.R.S. Restructuring and Revision Act, protects women who innocently sign returns while married to men who controlled the finances of the marriage.

An innocent spouse can be protected from tax liability provided 1) a joint return was filed, 2) the return contains a "grossly erroneous" error, 3) the spouse establishes "lack of knowledge," and 4) it is "inequitable" to impose the tax on him or her.

The innocent spouse rule does not shelter a spouse from any legitimate tax obligations for which she (or he) is responsible under the doctrine of joint and several liability.

Resources: Taxpayers requesting protection under the Innocent Spouse Rule must file Tax Form 8857.

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