Lucy didn’t know what else she could do. Her husband would rape her, beat her, and punch her. Being that she is a legal permanent resident in the United States and not a citizen, he would threaten to call immigration officials and have her deported. Lucy sought help from a neighbor when Jimmy, her husband, put a knife up to her throat. Her neighbor recommended she get out as soon as possible. She went to a women’s shelter, and they helped her apply for housing assistance, but she was denied. 

Unbeknownst to her, Jimmy’s abuse expanded far beyond her and her children’s personal safety. Her housing application was denied because the IRS was pursuing her to collect over $300,000 that it claimed she owed for income she received over the years, and therefore she made too much to qualify for housing. However, she hadn’t worked at all in those years, as Jimmy was very controlling. Turns out, Jimmy used her Social Security number to hide his construction income, and after he was confronted, told Lucy there was nothing she could do about it because they were married. 

Stealing Social Security numbers was nothing new for Jimmy; he’d used many over the years. It’s how he was able to afford two homes for himself as well as homes for his mother and siblings in Honduras. The women’s shelter referred Lucy to LSLA, and she was then referred to the LSLA’s Low-income Taxpayer Clinic. After analyzing the facts of her case, the Clinic determined she had a good chance of being granted innocent spouse relief. 

Taxpayers are eligible for innocent spouse relief when:

  • A joint return is filed that has an understatement of tax that’s solely attributable to your spouse’s erroneous item. An erroneous item includes income received by your spouse but omitted from the joint return. Deductions, credits, and property basis are also erroneous items if they’re incorrectly reported on the joint return;
  • It is established that at the time you signed the joint return you didn’t know and had no reason to know, that there was an understatement of tax; and
  • Taking into account all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understatement of tax.

The Clinic submitted her request, and she was granted full relief of the liability.

* Names were changed to protect the identity of the individual(s).