What is the Injured Spouse Allocation (Form 8379)?

Past-due amounts owed for certain debts can be withheld from a refund of taxes that you overpaid (your tax refund check). Legally enforceable obligations that remain unpaid and qualify for tax refund offset include:

  • Child support
  • Federal tax
  • State income tax
  • State unemployment compensation debts
  • Student loans
  • Certain other debts

If a tax refund based on a return filed jointly by you and your spouse will be offset to pay one or more of these types of debt that your spouse owes, you may be able to receive your share of the refund despite the offset. You can request your share of the refund by filing Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.

To qualify for this type of relief you must be unassociated with the debt. Your spouse must be the sole owner of the debt that triggers the offset.

If you or your spouse have received a Notice of Offset from the IRS or the Bureau of the Fiscal Service letting you know that your tax refund will be applied, you can file Form 8379 alone or submit it with your tax return. It usually takes approximately 11-14 weeks to process if it is submitted with your joint tax return.

You can also file Form 8379 after your refund has been taken to repay the debt, up to whichever is later of:

  • Three years from the due date of the tax return that generated the refund that was offset
  • Two years from the date you made the tax overpayment reflected on the refund that was ultimately offset

It takes approximately 8 weeks to process this if you file it alone, after your joint tax return has been processed.

You must file this each year that your joint refund is subject to offset, if you want to receive your share of the refund. You must file the form again if you filed it with your joint tax return and later file an amended return with your spouse, if you want to receive your share of an additional refund stemming from the amended return.

Important: Do not file Form 8379 if you are requesting Innocent Spouse Relief. Innocent spouse relief is intended to relieve one spouse of taxes, penalties and interest stemming from improper tax reporting by the other spouse on a joint return, in certain situations. To request innocent spouse relieve you should file Form 8857.


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