In some cases, a spouse may have been forced to sign a return through physical or mental abuse. The courts have ruled in the past that this is a reasonable defense when claiming innocent spouse relief assuming that there is proof that the abuse actually took place.
Records of any police report filed with the proper authorities or medical treatment records should be obtained as proof in the event a taxpayer wishes to seek relief under the innocent spouse abuse defense.
Past Tax Court Cases
In the past, there have been a few Tax Court rulings that have favored the spouse claiming that they were abused and forced to sign a return.
In the first case, the Tax Court required clarification of the evidence of the abuses and requested proof of:
1. Whether the taxpayer was unable to resist demands to sign the tax return, and
2. Whether the taxpayer would have not signed the return if they were given the option without the constraint against their will
The second case, the Tax Court ruled that the spouse was not well educated and did not participate in the family finances. There was also evidence of physical violence in their marriage and this was enough to allow the spouse to seek shelter under innocent spouse relief.
A third, but more unusual case involved a wife who was not subject to any type of abuse but was given innocent spouse relief because her husband had dominated all the financial matters throughout their marriage.