Posted by Fred Lake

Understanding Everything about Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation Definition

Understanding Everything about Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation Definition

There are times a taxpayer might owe a debt. This gives the IRS the power to seize their tax refunds. There are many forms of such debts that a taxpayer might owe. As a result, a couple could have their joint tax refund seized due to a single party's debt

This is what triggers the “injured spouse” as the innocent party is said to be injured. Form 8379 can be of great help to get back some of the seized refunds. 

When tax refunds could get seized 

If you owe a debt to the government or you have to satisfy court-ordered support, your federal tax refunds can suffer for it. Some court-ordered obligation that might warrant a refund seizure are:

  • Overdue federal and state taxes 

  • Unpaid spousal support

  • Unpaid child support

  • Delinquent federal debt like a student loan

With Form 8379, the IRS can release the portion of the refund to the injured spouse

How to File Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation

There are many ways one can file a joint tax return. These are 

  1. Joint filing with a tax return

  2. Filing with an amended tax return (Form 1040-X)

  3. A separate filing by the party concerned.

You can file an injured spouse with Form 1040-X: Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. 

For every year that the concerned party wants their part of the refund returned, the concerned spouse must file a return. A couple that knows that a refund might be seized could file Form 8379 alongside the joint tax return. 

On filing Form 8379, the IRS examines it to determine if you qualify for the claimed relief, alongside the value. Processing the injured spouse could span up to 15 weeks for paper filers and 11 weeks for people that file electronically. Users can access form 8379 online via the IRS website. 

Special Considerations for Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation

For people that live in a community property state, different rules apply. These states believe that all debts and assets acquired while married is a joint responsibility of the spouse involved, even though it comes with some exception as the rules vary. The amount is a factor of each state. Community property states are California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin. 

Injured Spouse and Innocent Spouse 

Users should bear in mind that ‘injured’ spouse relief is not the same as ‘innocent’ spouse relief. Filing for an innocent spouse happens when a spouse has to be responsible for interest, criminal prosecutions, fraudulent taxes, back taxes, and penalties arising from fraud or false reporting of taxes. The innocent spouse is valid as long as the concerned spouse did not know about the intent to defraud the IRS. 

To claim an innocent spouse relief, you need Form 8857 alongside other conditions like:

  • The tax in question is on a joint return.

  • The tax in question is due to unmerited deductions, cost basis, credits, etc.

  • The spouse can prove that there was no knowledge of the errors while he/she signed the joint return. 

  • And finally, Uncle Sam must establish that holding the innocent spouse responsible will be unfair.

Filing Out Form 8379

A couple that anticipates their refund will be seized can file Form 8379 with their joint return. The form has four parts:

Part 1: Involves a lot of yes or no questions to ascertain whether the spouse was indeed injured, and how to proceed.

Part II: involves data and other info about the joint return that triggered the refund

Part III: will help determine precisely the value of the refund that should be released to the injured spouse

Part IV: This applies only if the form is filed distinctly from the tax return. This requires the signature and date of the spouse in question.


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Fred Lake
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