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Tax News Innocent Joint Filer

Under federal and state income tax laws, when two people file a joint tax return, both individuals are treated as agreeing to joint filing and liabilities. See California Revenue and Taxation Code (R&TC) Section 19006(b) and Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 6013(d)(3). This means that we or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can collect the entire amount of tax due from either spouse or registered domestic partner (RDP) who signed the joint return. However, the R&TC provides that a taxpayer may receive tax relief if that taxpayer meets the requirements for innocent spouse relief. Generally, R&TC Section 18533 conforms to IRC Section 6015, the federal innocent spouse relief statute.

California innocent spouse relief laws were first introduced in the 1970s. Throughout the years, these laws have been amended. In 1999, California conformed to part of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, and enacted the "California Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights Act of 1999." This added provisions to R&TC Section 18533 to expand the existing innocent spouse relief.

More amendments were made to the innocent spouse provisions in 2004, which provided that individuals granted innocent spouse relief from IRS, would also be entitled to relief under California laws, unless the other taxpayer who signed the joint return showed that one of the exceptions to the granting of conforming relief applied. This provision ended January 1, 2009. SB 1065 introduced February 17, 2010, seeks to have this provision reinstated.

To request innocent spouse for your client, complete and submit the application from form FTB 705, Innocent Joint Filer, and provide a supporting statement explaining why your client qualifies for relief. To print the form and instructions, go to and search for 705.

You may contact the Innocent Joint Filer staff at 916.845.7072.

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