If an agency tells you or your spouse that your tax refund will be withheld to pay your spouse’s debt, you may be able to file an “injured spouse” claim with your joint tax return.
“Injured spouse” does not mean that your spouse was hurt in an accident. It means that you were “injured” because the IRS kept your part of the refund to pay a debt owed by your spouse, but not by you.
“Injured Spouse” Claim
An injured spouse claim can help you get back your part of a tax refund from a joint tax return. You might have an injured spouse claim if your spouse:
- is behind on student loans, or
- fell behind in making child support payments for children from another relationship, or
- owed federal income tax before you married or from a year when you filed separately.
An injured spouse claim will not help you get your part of the refund if both you and your spouse owe the debt. For example, any tax due on a tax return filed as “married filing jointly” is a jointly owed debt. Both spouses are responsible for paying it. If the couple's refund is withheld in the future to pay the debt, neither spouse is an injured spouse.
If you feel that you should not be responsible for your spouse’s tax debt after signing a joint return, you may have an “innocent spouse” claim
, which is different than an “injured spouse”
For questions about innocent spouse
cases, fill out our form
and someone from Vermont Law Help will contact you.
Original Source: Pine Tree Legal Aid
Adapted and updated by Vermont Law Help