My spouse lied on our tax return and now we owe back taxes. Is there anything that I can do?

Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) LSC Funded

Yes. You may be eligible for relief from the IRS. The most common type of relief when you have a tax problem because your spouse lied on a tax return is Innocent Spouse Relief.

What is Innocent Spouse Relief?

Innocent Spouse Relief is when the IRS removes your responsibility for all or part of your joint tax debt that you owe with your former spouse.
When you sign a joint income tax return, both you and your spouse agree to be responsible for any tax debt related to the tax return. This means that you could be responsible for the entire tax debt that tax year, even if you did not earn any money that year. If you qualify, innocent spouse relief can help relieve you of that responsibility.

What is Injured Spouse Relief?

Injured spouse relief is different than innocent spouse relief. You should apply for injured spouse relief if you are married and file jointly with your spouse and your tax refund is seized to pay your spouse's separate debts, like your spouse's back child support. If you file IRS Form 8379 with your tax return, you may receive a portion of your refund.

Where can I learn more?

To learn more, read our article  on Innocent Spouse Relief.

How do I get more help?

The Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at Montana Legal Services Association provides free legal help to low-income taxpayers with their IRS income tax problems. Contact us to see if you qualify:

  • Apply anytime online at
  • Call our Helpline at 1-800-666-6899 (Helpline hourse are limited).



Last Review and Update: Jul 24, 2017

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