If my spouse owes back taxes, will his tax debt affect my return?

Yes. The IRS can apply all or part of your joint refund to your spouse's legally enforceable past-due debt.

You can file Form 8379: injured spouse allocation to recover your share of the joint refund if:

  • You filed a joint return.
  • The joint return had a refund due -- all or part of which will be applied against your spouse's back taxes.
  • You aren't legally obligated to pay the debt -- your spouse is the only one who owes the debt.
  • You reported income (Ex: wages, taxable interest) on the joint return.
  • You did one or both of these:
    • Made and reported payments like federal income tax withholding or federal estimated tax payments
    • Claimed the Earned Income Credit (EIC) or other refundable credit on the joint return

The IRS must review your return to allocate part of the refund to you and part to your spouse's back taxes. It usually takes 11-14 weeks to process your refund.

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So how much will you get (or owe) this year? That’s the million-dollar question. We happen to have three very useful calculators to help you estimate your refund or balance due.

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