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How Do I Know if I Qualify for IRS Injured Spouse Status? – Caroline

“Dear Jim,

I need to know if I qualify for an “Injured Spouse” form. Here is the situation: Me and my spouse got married when he was still in the navy. He then went AWOL for some years because I got pregnant, had the baby, and we did not have anyone to babysit her. He went AWOL to be the stay at home dad while I worked. While he was AWOL, the military still kept giving him his paycheck via a bank account with the navy but since he went AWOL he never was able to access that money because the bank was on the military base and of course being AWOL, he was not allowed on the base. He was AWOL for 10+ years but was finally caught and the military gave him an “other than honorable discharge.” Even though he was not allowed access to his paycheck that the government kept paying into his military bank account, the government says he still owes this money back and now has a delinquent debt. I received a letter in the mail that says the FMS(Financial Management Service) is going to take my refund from me and apply it as an offset to the delinquent debt with the navy. I was the only one working for all of 2012 and I was the only one who reported any income and had any taxes withheld from my paychecks. I filed my return electronically.

Do I qualify for the “Injured Spouse” form 8379 to get my refund back as I was the only one working??

If I do qualify, will I get a paper check or will it be direct deposited into my bank account??



Hi Caroline:

Here is the answer to your question on whether you qualify for injured spouse based on your facts:

Yes, you do qualify for injured spouse relief. FMS offsets are handled by the Form 8379 and there is a phone # specifically to help with FMS questions.

[To determine if a debt is owed (other than federal tax), and whether an offset will occur, contact FMS at 1-800-304-3107.]

Generally, if you file Form 8379 with a joint return on paper, the time needed to process it is about 14 weeks (11 weeks if filed electronically). If you file Form 8379 by itself after a joint return has been processed, the time needed is about 8 weeks.

If the Form 8379 is attached with the return, the refund will come in the manner specified on the return (in your case- direct deposit). However, if you file Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, you cannot have your refund direct-deposited into more than one account. Your refund should only be deposited directly into accounts that are in your own name, your spouse’s name or both if it’s a joint account.

For Form 8379-remember to avoid these common mistakes

If you ever file Form 8379 separately (i.e. not when you file a return, but later), do not include a copy of your joint tax return. This will prevent delays in processing your allocation. Make sure to enclose copies of all Forms W-2 and W-2G for both spouses, and any Forms 1099 showing income tax withheld.

If you file Form 8379 with your joint tax return or amended joint tax return, enter “Injured Spouse” in the upper left corner of page 1 of your joint return.

Any dependency exemptions must be entered in whole numbers. Do not use fractions.

Items of income, expenses, credits and deductions must be allocated to the spouse who would have entered the item on his or her separate return.

Let me know if you have any other questions.



Jim Buttonow is one of the resident debt experts here at that helps people for free. Jim is a licensed CPA who spent 19 years with the IRS coordinating large compliance teams of IRS agents and specialized personnel. In the last 5 years, Jim has invented consumer and practitioner software and treatises on how to address many different tax issues. He has also represented many people before the IRS examination, collection, filing, and appeals functions. He currently assists taxpayers on an active pro bono tax practice aimed at serving people in need. He can be reached at

If you have a tax question you’d like to ask just use the online form. I’m happy to help you totally for free.

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About Jim Buttonnow

Jim Buttonnow
Jim Buttonow, CPA/CITP, is cofounder of Beyond415. He has more than 26 years of experience in IRS practice and procedure. Reach Jim at [email protected].

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