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.