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What Negotiation Strategies Can Innocent Spouses Use to Obtain Relief? 

What Negotiation Strategies Can Innocent Spouses Use to Obtain Relief? 

Being an innocent spouse in a situation involving tax debt caused by your partner’s actions can be overwhelming. However, the IRS provides relief for innocent spouses through the Innocent Spouse Program. Here, we’ll explore the negotiation strategies that innocent spouses can use to obtain relief and responsibly address their tax debt. 

Section 1: Understanding Innocent Spouse Relief 

Before delving into negotiation strategies, let’s grasp the basics of Innocent Spouse Relief: 

  1. What Is Innocent Spouse Relief?

Innocent Spouse Relief is a provision offered by the IRS that allows spouses to be relieved from joint and several liability for tax, interest, and penalties owed if their partner understated or underreported income, or engaged in fraudulent activities. 

  1. Eligibility Requirements:

To qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief, you must meet specific criteria, including demonstrating that you had no knowledge or reason to know about the inaccuracies on your joint tax return. 

Section 2: Assessing Your Eligibility 

Before pursuing Innocent Spouse Relief, assess your eligibility: 

  1. Review Tax Returns:

Examine your joint tax returns for inaccuracies or omissions that led to the tax debt. 

  1. Knowledge of Errors:

Demonstrate that you did not have knowledge or reason to know about the errors on the tax return. 

  1. Financial Impact:

Consider how the tax debt impacts your financial situation and well-being. 

Section 3: Preparation for Negotiations 

To negotiate effectively for Innocent Spouse Relief, prepare with care: 

  1. Consult a Tax Professional:

Consider working with a tax professional, such as a certified public accountant (CPA) or tax attorney, who can provide guidance and represent your interests. 

  1. Gather Documentation:

Compile all relevant documentation, including records of financial transactions and communication with your spouse regarding the tax return. 

  1. Know Your Rights:

Understand your rights as an innocent spouse and the options available to you under the Innocent Spouse Relief program. 

Section 4: Negotiation Strategies for Innocent Spouse Relief 

To navigate the negotiation process successfully, innocent spouses can employ the following strategies: 

  1. Thorough Documentation:

Provide comprehensive documentation supporting your claim of innocence. This includes any evidence that demonstrates your lack of knowledge about the inaccuracies on the joint return. 

  1. Transparency:

Maintain transparent and open communication with the IRS throughout the negotiation process. Respond promptly to any inquiries or requests for information. 

  1. Professional Representation:

Consider having a tax professional represent you during the negotiation process. Their expertise can strengthen your case and ensure your rights are protected. 

Section 5: Innocent Spouse Relief Application 

After thorough preparation, it’s time to submit your application for Innocent Spouse Relief: 

  1. Form 8857:

Complete IRS Form 8857, the Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, and provide all necessary documentation. 

  1. Application Fee:

Include the required application fee or request a waiver if you qualify. 

  1. Innocent Spouse Unit:

Submit your application to the IRS Innocent Spouse Unit for review. 

Section 6: IRS Review and Decision 

Once your application is submitted, the IRS will conduct a review: 

  1. Collection Halted:

During the review, the IRS typically suspends collection activities, providing relief from ongoing garnishments and levies. 

  1. Thorough Assessment:

The IRS will assess your application and review the evidence provided to determine your eligibility for Innocent Spouse Relief. 

  1. Notification of Decision:

You will receive a formal notice from the IRS, outlining their decision on your application. 

Section 7: Acceptance or Rejection of Innocent Spouse Relief 

The IRS will either accept or reject your request for Innocent Spouse Relief: 

  1. Acceptance:

If your request is accepted, you will be relieved from joint and several liability for the tax, interest, and penalties in question. 

  1. Rejection:

If your request is rejected, you will receive written notification explaining the reasons for the denial. 

Section 8: The Appeals Process 

If the IRS denies your application for Innocent Spouse Relief, you have the right to appeal the decision: 

  1. File an Appeal:

Submit a formal written appeal within 30 days of the IRS’s denial, providing detailed reasons for your appeal. 

  1. Appeal Conference:

You will have an opportunity to present your case to an IRS appeals officer during an appeal conference. 

  1. Independent Review:

The appeals officer will conduct an independent review of your application and consider your arguments and evidence. 

Section 9: Seek Professional Assistance 

Negotiating for Innocent Spouse Relief can be complex, and professional assistance is often crucial: 

  1. Tax Professionals:

Consult with tax professionals to help you prepare your application, navigate the negotiation process, and represent your interests effectively. 

  1. Legal Representation:

For particularly challenging cases or those involving significant tax debt, a tax attorney can provide legal representation and expertise. 


Negotiating for Innocent Spouse Relief is a path to financial recovery for individuals facing tax debt caused by a spouse’s actions. By understanding your eligibility, preparing your case meticulously, and maintaining transparent communication with the IRS, you can responsibly navigate the negotiation process. Seeking professional guidance is often key to successfully obtaining relief and protecting your financial well-being as an innocent spouse. 

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Table of Contents


 The simple answer is no. A business and a person are completely separate, thus, any personal tax debts or liabilities should not affect your business.

Tax debt can be an exhausting and complicated thing to deal with on your own. Communicating with the IRS and professionally handling your tax liabilities are just two of the services companies like Priority Tax Relief can offer.

No. The IRS’s Innocent Spouse Relief protects you from paying these additional taxes. However, this does not relieve you from household employment taxes, business taxes, individual joint responsibility payments etc. Priority Tax Relief helps you learn more about innocent spouse relief.

The most popular option to date would be an Offer In Compromise (OIC). At Priority Tax Relief, we help tax relief help become more accessible to taxpayers in need and help them understand how they can qualify for these options.

IRS tax liens are legal claims on your property when you do not settle your tax debts. The IRS usually sends out a notice when no payment has been made after a liability assessment. Find out more about tax liens with Priority Tax Relief.

Yes. Not only can the IRS put a claim on all your current property, tax liens can also affect any property or intangible or tangible assets that you obtain in the future. At Priority Tax Relief, we help you understand federal tax liens and how to communicate with the IRS.


Tax levies are the actual seizure of your property and are different from legal claims or tax liens. Settle your taxes before the IRS sends out a notice. Priority Tax Relief helps you understand tax levies and how you can avoid them.

Yes. Not only can they seize physical property but they can also legally take hold of the money in your bank account and other wages. To avoid this from happening, contact Priority Tax Relief now.

Your debt will, unfortunately, continue to grow and you will possibly lose a great number of your assets. It is definitely a scenario we do not wish to see happen to anyone, that’s why Priority Tax Relief makes sure that our help becomes within reach.

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