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Chicago Tax Penalty Relief Attorneys

Civil Penalty Abatements and Innocent Spouse Relief

Aiding in Civil Penalty Abatements

The IRS frequently asserts penalties (on top of any additional taxes due) for a variety of reasons, including late filing, late payment, negligence, over or under-valuations, substantial underpayment, and fraud. Obtaining a reduction or elimination of these penalties involves a considered legal and factual analysis, and a persuasive presentation of "reasonable cause," as the IRS and U.S. Tax Court has come to characterize that defense over the years. As with other procedural and substantive areas, our firm stays on top of all legal and policy developments in order to prepare and emphatically argue your case based on the most informed strategies.

At the Tax Practice of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, we focus our practice on 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 30 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 first step is to send a written request for penalty relief. The IRS has no required 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 an experienced 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 consultation and let us help you put your life back on track.


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