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IRS.gov Website
Publication 971
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Filled-in Form 8857(p10)

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This part explains how Janie Boulder fills out Form 8857 to request innocent spouse relief.
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(p10)

Janie and Joe Boulder filed a joint tax return for 2007. They claimed one dependency exemption for their son Michael. Their return was adjusted by the IRS because Joe did not report a $5,000 award he won that year. Janie did not know about the award when the return was filed. They agreed to the adjustment but could not pay the additional amount due of $815 ($650 tax + $165 penalty and interest). Janie and Joe were divorced on May 13, 2009. In February 2010, Janie filed her 2009 federal income tax return as head of household. She expected a refund of $1,203. In May 2010, she received a notice informing her that the IRS had offset her refund against the $815 owed on her joint 2007 income tax return and that she had a right to file Form 8857.
Janie applies the conditions listed earlier under Innocent Spouse Relief to see if she qualifies for relief.
  1. Janie meets the first and second conditions because the joint tax return they filed has an understated tax due to Joe's erroneous item.
  2. Janie believes she meets the third condition. She did not know about the award and had no reason to know about it because of the secretive way Joe conducted his financial affairs.
  3. Janie believes she meets the fourth condition. She believes it would be unfair to be held liable for the tax because she did not benefit from the award. Joe spent it on personal items for his use only.
Because Janie believes she qualifies for innocent spouse relief, she first completes Part I of Form 8857 to determine if she should file the form. In Part I, she makes all entries under the Tax Year 1 column because she is requesting relief for only one year.
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Part I(p11)

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Line 1.(p11)

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She enters "2007" on line 1 because this is the tax year for which she is requesting relief.
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Line 2.(p11)

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She checks the box because she wants a refund.
Note.Because the IRS used her individual refund to pay the tax owed on the joint tax return, she does not need to provide proof of payment.
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Line 3.(p11)

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She checks the "No" box because the IRS did not use her share of a joint refund to pay Joe's past-due debts.
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Line 4.(p11)

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She checks the "Yes" box because she filed a joint tax return for tax year 2007.
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Line 5.(p11)

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She skips this line because she checked the "Yes" box on line 4.
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Part II(p11)

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Line 6.(p11)

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She enters her name, address, social security number, county, and best daytime phone number.
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Part III(p11)

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Line 7.(p11)

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She enters Joe's name, address, social security number, and best daytime phone number.
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Line 8.(p11)

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She checks the "divorced since" box and enters the date she was divorced as "05/13/2009." She attaches a copy of her entire divorce decree (not Illustrated) to the form.
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Line 9.(p11)

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She checks the box for "High school diploma, equivalent, or less," because she had completed high school when her 2007 joint tax return was filed.
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Line 10.(p11)

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She checks the "No" box because she was not a victim of spousal abuse or domestic violence.
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Line 11.(p11)

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She checks the "No" box because neither she nor Joe incurred any large expenses during the year for which she wants relief.
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Line 12.(p11)

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She checks the "Yes" box because she signed the 2007 joint tax return.
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Line 13.(p11)

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She checks the "No" box because she did not have a mental or physical condition when the return was filed and does not have one now.
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Part IV(p11)

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Line 14.(p11)

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Because she was not involved in preparing the return, she checks the box, "You were not involved in preparing the returns."
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Line 15.(p11)

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She checks the box, "You did not know anything was incorrect or missing" because she did not know that Joe had received a $5,000 award. She explains this in the space provided.
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Line 16.(p11)

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She checks the box, "You knew that person had income" because she knew Joe had income from wages. She also lists Joe's income. Under "Type of Income" she enters "wages." Under "Who paid it to that person," she enters the name of Joe's employer, "Allied." Under "Tax Year 1" she enters the amount of Joe's wages, "$40,000." Because she is only requesting relief for one tax year, she leaves the entry spaces for "Tax Year 2" and "Tax Year 3" blank.
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Line 17.(p11)

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She checks the "No" box because she did not know any amount was owed to the IRS when the 2007 return was signed.
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Line 18.(p11)

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She checks the "No" box because, when the return was signed, she was not having financial problems.
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Line 19.(p11)

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She checks the box, "You were not involved in handling money for the household" because Joe handled all the money for the household. She provides additional information in the space provided.
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Line 20.(p11)

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She checks the "No" box because Joe has never transferred money or property to her.
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Part V(p11)

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Line 21.(p11)

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She enters the number "1" on both the line for "Adults" and the line for "Children" because her current household consists of herself and her son.
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Line 22.(p11)

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She enters her average monthly income for her entire household.
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Line 23.(p11)

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She lists her assets, which are $500 for the fair market value of a car, $450 in her checking account, and $100 in her savings account.
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Signing and mailing Form 8857.(p11)

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Janie signs and dates the form. She attaches the copy of her divorce decree (not illustrated) required by line 8. Finally, she sends the form to the IRS address or fax number shown in the instructions for Form 8857.
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