Civil Penalty Abatements and Innocent Spouse Relief
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The Tax Practice of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
The Tax Practice of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law


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Chicago Tax Penalty Relief Attorneys

Civil Penalty Abatements and Innocent Spouse Relief

Aiding in Innocent Spouse Relief and Civil Penalty Abatements

The Internal Revenue Service often assesses penalties to taxpayers (on top of the amount of tax owed) for various reasons. These tax penalties include:

  • Late Filings
  • Late Tax Payments
  • Underpayment of the Tax Owed
  • Civil Fraud

In addition, many businesses are assessed civil penalties for failing to file important documents such as W2 and W3 forms. There are also circumstances when you are an innocent party, such as in cases of identity theft or when your spouse or ex-spouse was responsible for the tax debts or understatements. The penalties incurred by such circumstances can be significant, but the good news is they can be reduced or abated if you follow the correct procedures.

At the Tax Practice of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, we specialize in helping clients reduce or eliminate penalties that have been assessed by the IRS. Our practice is run by Professor Jonathan Decatorsmith, a Chicago tax attorney with over 25 years of experience litigating IRS tax cases. Professor Decatorsmith is a strong advocate for taxpayer rights and offers an aggressive and affordable solution for Illinois taxpayers that need help with civil penalty abatements, innocent spouse requests, and other related matters.

How to Have an IRS Penalty Removed

The IRS has a fairly liberal policy for penalty abatements as long as you follow the proper steps. The first step is to send a written request for penalty relief. The IRS has no official form for this purpose, so it is advisable to have this request prepared by your attorney. The purpose of the request is to show that there is reason to believe that the cause of your penalty (your failure to comply with one or more parts of the IRS tax code) was unintentional and/or due to extenuating circumstances. The written request should (at a minimum) contain the following information:

  • Your name, address and social security number (or tax ID number if this is for your business);
  • The list of penalties with which you are requesting relief;
  • The reason(s) that you did not (or were unable to) comply with the tax code;
  • The reasons(s) you believe you should be granted penalty relief under the law; and
  • Any and all documentation to support your request.

The IRS denies tens of thousands of penalty abatement requests each year that are prepared by taxpayers without the help of a professional. These are usually just simple request letters without any supporting documentation or citation of the law that supports the request for relief. But when you use the services of an experienced professional that understands the inner workings of the IRS, your abatement request has a much better chance of success.

Innocent Spouse Relief

Congress has provided several provisions authorizing the IRS to provide relief to spouses or former spouses that have no knowledge of or involvement in the tax understatements or underpayments. Innocent spouse relief can help taxpayers gain a fresh start by potentially removing back taxes, penalties, and interest owed that were incurred as a result of their spouse's actions. However, it is not always easy to obtain this relief from the IRS. You must first prove that you have little or no involvement and therefore should not be held liable for this tax debt. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you seek the guidance of a tax attorney in seeking innocent spouse relief.

If you have tax debts due to the actions of your spouse or penalties that were assessed because of a misunderstanding or oversight, the worst thing you can do is nothing. If do not respond to such notices from the IRS, it could lead to liens on your property and/or your bank accounts being levied. These matters can be satisfactorily resolved if you are proactive and take the right steps. Contact the Tax Practice of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law at 312-906-5041 for your free consultation and let us help you put your life back on track.

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