Kathy D. Sheive Attorney at Law

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Basics of equitable relief

In a prior post, we talked about how financial infidelity can ruin a relationship and how to notice signs of it in your own marriage. We would like our readers to know that the issues behind financial infidelity do not end with emotional consequences. It can have significant legal implications as well.

For example, if one spouse is accused of tax fraud because he or she submitted a false or misleading tax return, the other spouse could be implicated as well. This is because when spouses sign a tax return (electronically or otherwise) they are both attesting to the veracity of the information submitted. As such, spouses can be held jointly liable for charges assessed for a false tax return. 

However, a spouse who had little, if any, input into such a return could make a claim for equitable relief. Essentially, he or she can claim that they were an “innocent spouse” and that they had basically nothing to do with compiling the information into the return. Innocent spouses do not have first hand knowledge of the information included, and may not have the ability to dispute such information to determine whether it is accurate.

In recent years, the IRS has relaxed its standards regarding innocent spouses, especially after learning how many abused spouses sign returns under duress or without legitimate knowledge of what is in them.

The preceding is not legal advice. If you have questions the innocent spouse defense or when an claim for equitable relief can be made, an experienced attorney can answer them. 

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