January 12, 1999
IRS Has New Form and Publication
for Innocent Spouse Relief
WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service has new versions of
its form and publication for innocent spouse relief, each revised to
incorporate the changes made by last summer's IRS Restructuring and
"This is the latest of several steps we've taken in our ongoing
effort to help innocent spouses," said IRS Commissioner Charles 0.
Rossotti. "We hope that our materials will effectively explain the
new law to taxpayers and assist them in taking full advantage of
their rights. We appreciate the comments we received on the draft
form last fall and welcome suggestions on how we might further
improve these items. We plan to incorporate additional feedback from
taxpayers and practitioners -- as well as our own experience in
processing these requests -- into even better products."
The Act set a deadline of January 19, 1999, for the IRS to make
a form available for taxpayers to request relief under the new law.
Last month, the IRS issued interim guidelines for giving
equitable relief consideration, one of the law's new provisions. The
IRS automatically extended this consideration to all requests it
handled after the law took effect in July, without further action on
the requester's part. The IRS continues to suspend collection
actions against anyone who asks for innocent spouse relief until the
request is acted upon.
When a married couple files a tax return jointly, each spouse is
fully liable for any taxes owed, including any additional
assessments that may result after an audit. The law offers relief to
a spouse who did not know about erroneous items that caused the
extra tax, to a divorced or separated person to the extent an
additional tax is allocable to the other spouse, or to a person who
does not qualify under these provisions, but who it would be
inequitable to hold responsible for the taxes owed.
Details on the new provisions are in the free IRS Publication
971, "Innocent Spouse Relief." Taxpayers should use the revised Form
8857, "Request for Innocent Spouse Relief," when seeking any of the
three new types of relief. Both items are available on the IRS Web
site at www.irs.ustreas.gov, and by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM.
Taxpayers may send comments or suggestions for improving these
materials by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax to
202-622-5025, or by letter to Tax Forms Coordinating Committee, IRS,
OP:FS:FP, Room 5577, 1111 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC,
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