With Tax season behind for many, it’s always a good idea from time to time to understand all the different types of forms that are out there from the IRS. One of these is the IRS Injured Spouse Form.
Unfortunately, sometimes it always feels as if every additional form besides the primarily 1040 (and its variations) seems to be another piece of reporting to end up paying more tax. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and that’s also true when it comes to the IRS Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation.
What is the IRS Injured Spouse Form not related to?
IRS Form 8379 is not related to any type of physical or mental injury to a spouse. So it isn’t a health-related issue where this ends up being some type of tax form to complete when it comes to medical expenses or the inability of a spouse not able to work.
It also isn’t related to an innocent spouse. This case is when a spouse faces either penalties or back taxes related to tax returns fraudulently filed by their significant other. A separate form for that will help protect an unknowing spouse who may be a victim in the situation.
When would be the best time to use the IRS Injured Spouse Form 8379?
This form is actually about protecting one of the two spouses when filing a joint tax return. It essentially covers a spouse who has a part or their entire tax refund seized by the IRS. This is because the other spouse owes something to the government. This is coupled with them having a requirement to use the tax refund as a way to pay off the debt.
These debts are all predetermined in advance and are generally related to government-related debts. Some examples can be child support, or government student loans that fall behind their payments, and thus you can access refunds. It could also include unpaid state income taxes. This is usually a claim from either the IRS themselves or the Bureau of Fiscal Services in many cases.
When do I file for this?
Sometimes the injured spouse isn’t always aware of it until the refund comes in lighter or not at all. Yet the IRS form 8379 is very flexible when it comes to the timing of when it’s possible to file. Even after the refund is used due to an issue above or some other type of government debt you had to pay unwillingly, you can still file this form.
If there’s a chance that a spouse is aware this may be an issue. You can also file it with the joint tax return even with one that has amends after the initial one has had a filing, and you require changes.
When it comes to how many times you must file this, it all depends on the depth of the debt one of the spouses needs to pay. Every year you reclaim debt on the income tax refund is another year that the form will need completion. This is so the spouse that has the right to their refund receives it.
What if the 8379 IRS Injured Spouse Form is accidentally filled out?
This is actually a lot more common than most think. Maybe it was in a year where the debts were already paid off, but the form was filled out anyway as a precaution. Or perhaps a tax software asked a few questions, and the wrong box was checked, allowing the form to be filled out. There are a couple of methods to go about this, and neither of them is to panic.
The first one is to wait. Keep in mind that even when e-filing is usually the fastest way to handle tax returns and receive confirmations and refunds, there’s an extended time when you file an IRS form 8379. If they accept the return and the refund goes through, it’s all set. However, if they reject it and it’s clear that it’s due to you filing the form with the return, then simply file an amended return without form 8379.
If panic is slowly rising, then it’s always a good idea to contact the IRS. Remember, they are there to help you out with any tax-related issues. Keep in mind to pay attention to the telephone prompts. This is because the initial prompt is commonly related to refund info.
However, you’re looking for information on your personal tax return instead. If they’re able to locate your return (depending on timing), then you can simply explain the matter and that the form was done in error. Either they will remove the document, or it may still require an amendment.
Either way, it’s considered an accident, less anything malicious or fraudulent, so just be clear during the process.
How long does it take?
If they accept the claim – whether you file it with the tax return or after the fact, then it can take up to 14 weeks in some cases. Filing electronically, of course, will be much faster. This all depends on the complexity of your taxes. Not to mention the timing of the return, and where you are in the overall queue for processing tax returns.
As always, if you hear nothing back, you can always reach out to the IRS to get an update on the status of your tax returns.
Can anyone use it?
In most cases, yes. It could also vary in which state you are both residing in. Some states are community property states. In other words this means everything that happens during a marriage in relation to assets or liabilities (such as debts) has ownage from both parties.
Even though we’re talking about a federal filing here in most cases, the IRS does default to each state based on the rule the states follow; it’s always best to check in advance or to work with an accountant to determine eligibility.
It’s also another point to understand that there’s no guarantee when it comes to filling out IRS form 8379. They still may reject it after the fact and still may not release or offer a refund to the injured spouse. This is rare if the injured spouse is eligible and could be for a misfiled form or you’re not qualified. The bare minimum requirements to qualify are as follows:
- The injured spouse had an income that was reported, and taxes were paid on it.
- The injured spouse doesn’t have any government debts
In the end
If there are still many questions in relation to Form 8379 or any other form when it comes to tax refunds, it’s always a good idea to work with a tax professional. One who has experience in all the documents that the IRS has on hand (and regularly updates). If you’re in the Arlington, Texas, area, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions related to tax preparation.
However, if your residence is in a community property state, different rules may apply. In general, these states take the view that debts and assets acquired during a marriage are jointly owned, though there are exceptions.
The rules vary in each state. The IRS uses each state’s regulations to determine the amount, if any, refundable to the injured spouse. Community property states are the following: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.2