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What is an innocent spouse and how does it differ from an injured spouse?

SOLVEDby TurboTax2033Updated December 22, 2021

An innocent spouse filed a joint return, but was unaware that their spouse deliberately under-reported their tax liability. By filing as an innocent spouse (Form 8857), they can be protected from additional taxes, penalties, and interest when the IRS later finds out about the unreported income.

In contrast, an injured spouse seeks to protect their share of the joint refund in case it gets seized or offset due to the other spouse's debts or unpaid obligations.

To file Form 8857, Innocent Spouse Relief in TurboTax:

  1. Open (continue) your return.
  2. In the upper right menu, select  and search for innocent spouse relief.
  3. Select the Jump to link in the search results.
  4. Answer Yes, then fill in the year(s) requested on the following screen, and select Continue.
  5. On the following screen, fill out Form 8857 (be sure to first read the instructions by scrolling all the way to the top). When finished, select Continue.
  6. The interview will turn to injured spouse questions, which may or may not apply. Many filers seeking innocent spouse relief also seek injured spouse relief.

When you're ready to file, we'll walk you through the steps to mail in Form 8857, which is filed separately from your return.

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