Many married taxpayers choose to file a joint tax return because of certain benefits this filing status allows. Both taxpayers are jointly and individually responsible for the tax and any interest or penalty due on the joint return even if they later divorce. This is true even if a divorce decree states that a former spouse will be responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns. One spouse may be held responsible for all the tax due even if all the income was earned by the other spouse.
In some cases, a spouse will be relieved of the tax, interest, and penalties on a joint tax return. Three types of relief are available:
1) Innocent spouse relief
2) Separation of liability
3) Equitable relief
You may qualify for this program if you believe you are eligible for relief from tax, interest, and penalties on a joint tax return and meet the conditions for one of the three types of relief.
You must file for relief using the guidelines in Publication 971, Innocent Spouse Relief.