Injured Spouse vs Innocent Spouse

There are two separate forms relating to injured/innocent spouses, Form 8379 and Form 8857.

Form 8379 Injured Spouse Allocation

Form 8379 Injured Spouse Allocation is used more commonly and can be electronically filed with your tax return or sent alone after filing the tax return if necessary. To complete Form 8379 in your TaxAct® program:

  1. From within your TaxAct return (Online or Desktop), click Federal. On smaller devices, click in the upper left-hand corner, then choose Federal.
  2. In the middle of the screen (Under the Federal Quick Q&A Topics heading), click Miscellaneous Topics to expand the category and then click Injured spouse relief
  3. Click +Add Form 8379 to create a new copy of the form or click Review to review a form already created
  4. The program will proceed with the interview questions for you to enter or review the appropriate information

You may be an injured spouse if you file a joint tax return and all or part of your portion of the overpayment was, or is expected to be, applied (offset) to your spouse's legally enforceable past-due federal tax, state income tax, child or spousal support, or a federal nontax debt, such as a student loan. Review the section of the Q&A listed above to determine if you are eligible.

If you do not file the form electronically with your return you should send a paper copy of the form to the IRS address for your area. Be sure to attach copies of all Forms W-2, W-2G, or 1099 showing federal income tax withholding. The processing of Form 8379 may be delayed if these forms are not attached, or if the form is incomplete when filed. View or print the paper filing instructions in your return to obtain the applicable address:

  1. From within your TaxAct Online return, click Print Center in the left column.
  2. Click Instructions/Reports
  3. Click the checkbox(es) to the left of the instructions/reports you wish to print, and enter the appropriate number of copies.
  4. Click the Print button and then click the PDF link. Click the printer icon or save icon (available when you hover your mouse over the bottom of the PDF form) to print or save as a PDF file. 

If you see the message "You will need to complete the filing steps first" in Step 3 above, then you will need to return to the Filing section and complete that process far enough to print the return (you do not need to go to the end of the filing steps and submit the return at this time). Then, you can return to Step 3. Clicking on that message will take you directly to those filing steps.

  1. Choose the Print icon below the top menu
  2. Click on Print Reports in the Print Center window that appears
  3. Choose Federal Paper Filing Instructions, Click Print and then Click OK on the next screen

In the print dialog box that appears you are able to choose if you wish to send the output to a printer or a PDF document. 

See the IRS Instructions for Form 8379 for additional information.

Note. According to the instructions for Form 8379, it will take the IRS approximately 14 weeks (11 weeks if filing electronically) to process the form.

Form 8857 Request for Innocent Spouse Relief

Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief is NOT sent with your tax return and is completed to request relief from tax liability, for which you believe only your spouse or former spouse should be held liable. Form 8857 is not supported in TaxAct. You will need to manually prepare and mail this form to the IRS.

Per IRS Instructions for Form 8857, page 4:

Line 1. Complete line 1 to determine if you should file Form 8857. Whether you check "Yes" or "No," you should go to line 2 (discussed next) to find out if you should file another form (Form 8379) to request injured spouse relief. Injured spouse relief is different from innocent spouse relief and you cannot request it by filing Form 8857. You must file Form 8379. For example, if you check "Yes" on line 1 and "Yes" on line 2, you will have to file both Forms 8857 and 8379.

Line 2. Complete line 2 to determine if you should file Form 8379. Check "Yes" for any tax year to which all of the following apply:

  • You filed a joint return.
  • At the time you filed the joint return, your spouse owed past-due federal tax, state income tax, state unemployment compensation debts, child support, spousal support, or federal nontax debt, such as a student loan.
  • The IRS used (offset) the refund to pay your spouse's past-due amount.

If all three of the above apply, you may be able to get back your share of the refund for that tax year if you file Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.

If you checked "Yes" on line 1, and all three of the above do not apply, check "No" and go to line 3.

Additional information for Form 8857 is available in IRS Publication 971 Innocent Spouse Relief or IRS Form 8857 Request for Innocent Spouse Relief.