David Bruce Billings - Page 8

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               A married couple can choose to file their Federal tax return           
          jointly, but if they do, both are then responsible for the                  
          return’s accuracy and both are jointly and severally liable for             
          the entire tax due.  Sec. 6013(d)(3); Butler v. Commissioner, 114           
          T.C. 276, 282 (2000).  This can lead to harsh results, especially           
          when one spouse hides information from the other, so Congress               
          enacted section 6015, which directs the Commissioner to relieve             
          qualifying “innocent spouses” from that liability.  Sec. 6015(a).           
          An innocent spouse may seek either (1) relief from liability                
          under section 6015(b) if he can show that he was justifiably                
          ignorant of unreported income or inflated deductions, or (2) have           
          his tax liability allocated between himself and an estranged or             
          former spouse under section 6015(c).  Billings, however, looks to           
          section 6015(f) for relief.  Subsection (f) relief is available             
          only to a spouse who is ineligible for relief under subsections             
          (b) and (c) and who shows that "taking into account all the facts           
          and circumstances, it is inequitable to hold [him] liable for any           
          unpaid tax or any deficiency (or any portion of either).”                   
          Billings and the Commissioner stipulated that he did not                    
          qualify for relief under either section 6015(b) or (c) because no           
          deficiency was ever asserted against him and his wife.  They were           
          right to do so, because both those subsections require a                    
          deficiency as a condition of relief.  See, e.g., Block v.                   

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Last modified: May 25, 2011