SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico is making it easier for innocent spouses to get tax relief. Normally, both spouses who file joint tax returns are responsible for tax debts. In some cases, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), can even hold you liable for your former spouse’s taxes after divorce.

The IRS offers “innocent spouse relief” to help people avoid penalties if their spouses or former spouses omitted items or lied on their tax returns. Now, New Mexico’s Taxation and Revenue Department (TRD) is making it easier for people to access that relief.

“This new law adds fairness to our tax system by making it easier for taxpayers to access relief that they may be entitled to,” Stephanie Schardin Clarke, the TRD department secretary, said in a news release. “This relief can make an incredible difference in an innocent spouse’s financial stability and wellbeing.”

Innocent spouse relief can help people who believe they are wrongly being held accountable for a tax debt owed by a spouse or former spouse, TRD notes. But to get relief, you must prove that you shouldn’t be held liable and that you’re not claiming relief as part of a fraudulent scheme.

Passed as part of an omnibus tax bill in 2021, changes to New Mexico’s tax system now allow New Mexico’s Taxation and Revenue Department to automatically grant tax relief once approved by the IRS. The changes expedite the process, TRD says.

Updated forms are now available at the TRD website. You can also access forms via a self-service portal.

Some factors in granting innocent spouse status are:

  • Did the spouse or former spouse know about the tax liability at the time it arose?
  • Did the spouse or former spouse have a meaningful opportunity to contest the assessment of tax at the time the assessment was made?
  • Has the spouse or former spouse cooperated with the Department in collection and compliance efforts?
  • Can the state protect its interests without pursuing active collection efforts against the spouse or former spouse, including collection efforts against the other spouse or former spouse?