What To Do If Your Refund is Used to Pay Your Spouse’s Debt

If the government took your federal income tax refund to pay a debt owed by your spouse, you may be able to use Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, to get your share of it back.

The IRS considers you to be an “injured spouse” if you file a joint return and you think all or part of your refund may be used to pay your spouse’s past due debt (called an “offset” by the government).

The types of debt that may be considered offsets are:

  • Past-due federal debt (taxes or non-tax, such as student loans)
  • State income tax debt
  • State unemployment compensation debt
  • Child or spousal support payments

To qualify as an injured spouse, you must:

  • not be legally obligated to pay the debt.
  • have made and reported tax payments.
  • claimed a refundable tax credit on a joint return.

You can file Form 8379 with your Form 1040, with an amended return, or by itself. It generally takes between 1-4 months to receive an injured spouse refund.

Visit the Taxpayer Advocate Service’s website for more information.

About cozbycpa

Heather L. Cozby is a CPA on the South Shore and Cape Cod. The managing partner of Cozby & Company, LLC, Heather has the resources and experience necessary to provide quality professional services on a timely basis and at a reasonable cost. She specializes in tax planning & preparation; audit, review & compilation services; management advisory services; bookkeeping; and accounting. Her unique niche is in working with homeowners’ associations and condominium trusts, advising with rental real estate, and providing outsourced financial consulting for mid-sized companies. She is more entrepreneurial than most accountants, and offers the best of both worlds - providing the services of a larger firm while retaining the ability to connect with her clients on a personal level.
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