In general, you must file Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief no more than two years after the first time the IRS attempts to collect the tax. Within three years of the filing date of the original return or two years after the tax was paid. Some of the same rules that extend your ability to claim a refund in the case of an original or amended return, also apply to filing Form 8857.
However, it is a good idea to file the form, as soon as possible.
A few reasons for this:
- The IRS receives the request on time.
- You do not lose your right to file a claim.
- Filing it early saves you years of headaches.
Alternate Rules for Requesting Equitable Relief
Since July 25, 2011, and Notice 2011-70, the IRS granted more time to claim equitable relief. The exact amount of time depends on a few factors. You may request relief at any time the IRS has the authority to collect the tax. If the statute of limitations passed on the IRS’s ability to collect, you may no longer request equitable relief.
In most cases, this isn’t a problem. The end goal is simply to settle or discharge the amount owed for as little as possible. There are situations where a person might want the tax-relieved rather than simply outside the collection statute of limitations
If you request equitable relief for a balance due, credit, or refund…
Two separate time periods apply but the same rules count.
A separate clock for filing on time exists for…
- Balance due amounts
- Credit or refund amounts
You can file on time for one of these amounts and not the other.
File for relief with a properly prepared claim as soon as you possibly can. The rules for timely filed claims are complex. It’s easy to mess up if you are not familiar with them.