What Is IRS Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation

The "injured" spouse on a jointly filed tax return can file Form 8379 to regain their share of joint refund. This is the case when the joint overpayment is applied to a past-due obligation of the other spouse. Using Form 8379, an injured spouse can seek 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 they recognize that a refund will be applied to a spouse's previous obligation.

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.

How Form 8379 Works

An individual should downloand and file Form 8379 when they become 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 spouse has fallen behind on alimony payments and the spouse 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 for 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 file 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 their spouse without any knowledge. In this case, the innocent spouse should file Form 8857, not Form 8379.

How to File Form 8379

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 regain their 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. Form 8379 is filed with Form 1040X only if a spouse is amending an original return to claim a joint refund.

Form 8379 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 their spouse without any knowledge. In this case, the innocent spouse should file Form 8857, not Form 8379.