When you divorce, you have to split all assets and debts. Debts include any taxes you may owe.
But in some cases, you may not feel you should be responsible for tax debts. If the court orders you to pay anyway, you may be able to seek separation of liability relief from the IRS.
What it is
In a divorce, the court will divide the tax debt based on your financial situation, which could make you liable for a nice chunk of the overdue amount. You are only responsible for the share assigned to you, but you may feel it is not your responsibility because of errors your spouse made in filing.
Separation of liability relief is available to spouses after a divorce when they want to avoid liability for tax debt. You are eligible if you and your spouse had filed jointly and you were unaware of the issues leading to the tax debt.
How it works
Separation of liability is only forgiveness. You cannot get a refund for anything you already paid. You will have to show that you had no knowledge of any errors or issues with your taxes that led to the debt. You may be able to claim that you could not act on the issues due to a domestic violence situation if you did know about them and still get relief.
You have two years from the time you receive a notice about the tax issues to ask for relief, and you must use Form 8857 to make the request. The IRS could take up to six months to grant your request. You also can appeal if you have a denial.