What Is IRS Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation?

If married spouses file a joint tax return and any overpayment is applied to one party’s past tax obligations, the “injured” spouse can file IRS Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation to receive at least a portion of the refund. An injured spouse can seek to have a refund of overpaid federal taxes, state taxes, alimony, child support, or non-tax debt, such as a student loan. Typically, spouses are jointly responsible for a tax obligation, so an injured spouse should file Form 8379 as soon as he or she recognizes that a refund will be applied to a spouse's previous obligation.

Who Can File Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation?

File Form 8379 when a taxpayer becomes aware that all or part of a share of an overpayment was, or is expected to be, applied (offset) against a spouse's legally enforceable past-due obligations. Form 8379 must be filed for each year this condition is in effect and the taxpayer wants their portion of any offset refunded.

If a husband has fallen behind on alimony payments to a former spouse, and he and his wife file a joint tax return, the IRS can take the entire refund due even though only one spouse owes the debt. Thus, the term “injured” when referring to the negatively impacted spouse. IRS Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation is a request of the IRS to release the injured spouse's portion of the refund.

If a couple files their return knowing any refund might be seized, the injured spouse can file the form with the joint tax return or do it separately.

Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation rules make it important not to confuse “injured” and “innocent” spouses. A person is deemed “innocent” when they may be facing criminal charges, back taxes, or civil penalties due to a fraudulent tax return filed by his or her spouse without any knowledge. In this case, the innocent spouse should file Form 8857, not Form 8379.

How to File Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation

Form 8379 is filed by one spouse (the injured spouse) on a jointly filed tax return when the joint overpayment was (or is expected to be) applied (offset) to a past-due obligation of the other spouse. By filing Form 8379, the injured spouse may be able to get back his or her share of the joint refund. Form 8379 can be filed with a joint tax return or amended joint tax return (Form 1040X), or it can be filed afterward by itself. File Form 8379 with Form 1040X only if you are amending your original return to claim a joint refund.

Download Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation

Here is a link to a downloadable Form 8379.

Key Takeaways

  • If married spouses file a joint tax return and any overpayment is applied to one party’s past tax obligations, the “injured” spouse can file IRS Form 8379 to receive at least a portion of the refund.
  • IRS Form 8379 is a request of the IRS to release the injured spouse's portion of the refund.
  • Form 8379 can be filed with a joint tax return or amended joint tax return (Form 1040X), or it can be filed afterward by itself.