When a married couple files a joint tax return, the refund may be applied to a spouse’s existing past-due debt. If you happen to be the other spouse (you’re henceforth called the “injured” spouse), you can get back your share of the joint refund by filing IRS form 8379, aka Injured Spouse Allocation.
So how do you go about filing it? Don’t worry, we’ll give you tips and tricks on how to write IRS form 8379 through this ultimate guide.
Table of Contents
Guide on How to Write a Form 8379
How to know if you should file a form 8379
First of all, the injured spouse allocation only applies if you have or are about to file a joint tax return. If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has applied or is planning to use the refund to pay a legally enforceable past-due debt incurred by your spouse, then you qualify as an injured spouse.
Legally enforceable past-due debts include federal tax, state income tax, state unemployment compensation, child support, spousal support, and federal non-tax debt, e.g. a student loan.
How do you know if the IRS is going to apply the refund to a past-due debt? You generally receive a Notice of Offset informing you of the fact.
When to file form 8379?
After ensuring that you qualify as an injured spouse, your next step is to know when to file. You can start writing a Tax form 8379 as soon as you become aware of the offset.
You need to file it within three (3) years from the due date of the original joint tax return. Or, if you have already paid the tax that was subsequently offset, you must file the form within two (2) years from the payment date.
If you know that an offset is coming, you can choose to file the form together with your joint tax return.
One other important note: You have to file your form 8379 for each year you want your share to be refunded.
Download the IRS Form 8379
Below is a preview of IRS Form 8379. Use this form for free when you sign up for a Fill account.
Form 8379 – Injured Spouse Allocation
What to Include When Writing a Form 8379
When it comes to IRS form 8379 creation, knowing what to include is key to getting back the right refund amount for your share. Here’s what you should include:
1. Information about the original joint tax return
The Part II section of form 8379 is dedicated to this. This section already provides detailed instructions, but you will still need to review carefully if you’ve copied the exact information from your original joint tax return.
The information will include you and your spouse’s names, social security number, and mailing address.
Note that you can provide another mailing address if you want your injured spouse’s refund mailed to an address different from what’s indicated in your original joint tax return.
As for foreign addresses, you can follow special instructions provided by the IRS depending on which foreign country destination.
2. Information about you and your spouse’s income
Income information for you and your spouse should be separated to determine your refund amount. The Part III section of form 8379 is designed to do that.
When filling in this section, you will need to separate your wages, self-employment income, and credits from your spouse.
The good news is that Part III already organizes income-related items into specific categories:
- Line 13: Income
- Line 13a: Income as reported on your Form W-2
- Line 13b: All other income
- Line 14: Income adjustments
- Line 15: Standard deduction or itemized deductions
- Line 16: Non-refundable credits
- Line 17: Refundable credits (excluding earned income credits)
- Line 18: Other taxes
- Line 19: Federal income tax withheld
- Line 20: Payments
Part III contains three columns where you can indicate the joint tax return amount (column A), your allocated amount as the injured spouse (column B), and the remaining amount to your spouse (column C). The amount in column A should be equal to the total of the amounts in column B and column C.
Best Tips and Strategies When Creating a Form 8379
It’s important to be extra careful when filing your injured spouse allocation. Any mistake could cause delays in processing your refund. Here are tips and strategies on how to draft form 8379 properly.
1. Indicate “Injured Spouse” when filing form 8379 with your joint tax return.
Make sure to mark “Injured Spouse” in the upper left corner of your joint tax return.
2. Do not include your joint tax return when filing form 8379 separately.
Instead, attached copies of the following:
- Form W-2 for both spouses
- Form W-2G for both spouses
- Any Form 1099 reporting income tax withheld
3. Pretend you are filing a separate tax return when working on Part III.
This makes it easier for you to report your income separately from your spouse’s. But note that for income types that are tricky to separate, the IRS will divide them equally.
4. File form 8379 separately and online.
If you submit your form 8379 separately from your joint tax return and do it electronically (instead of mailing it), there’s a good chance your application will be processed faster. Online submissions could take 11 weeks or sooner compared to mailed submissions, which could take 14 weeks.
5. Make a follow-up to help speed up the process.
If you want to try to do your part in moving things along, you can make a follow-up via phone call. The Bureau of Financial Services’ TOP Center can be reached at 800-304-3107.
How To Use Fill To Write Form 8379
Now that you have a good idea of how to create a form 8379, it’s time to take it to the next level by using a tool to further smoothen the process. Create an account today to start using one of our templates.