FYI


New IRS Helps Ex-Spouses Online

The IRS posted a new questionnaire on its Web site ( www.irs.ustreas.gov ), which provides taxpayers with information on “innocent spouse” relief. An innocent spouse is someone who is divorced or legally separated from his or her marital partner and who was unaware the former partner wasn’t properly paying taxes due on a joint return. The relief allows the innocent spouse not to be held jointly liable when he or she had no knowledge of the unpaid taxes.

Although relief for innocent spouses had been available in the past, it was difficult to obtain. Under provisions adopted in the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, it is now easier for taxpayers to get relief.

An interactive spousal relief questionnaire at the IRS Web site helps taxpayers determine whether they are eligible. By the end of October 1999, the IRS had amassed a backlog of approximately 40,000 innocent spouse cases and was receiving 800 additional cases each week, said Charles O. Rossotti, IRS commissioner.

IRS Establishes New Business Unit

As part of its restructuring process, the IRS broke its territory-based organization into four business units, each of which was assigned to specific types of individual and organizational taxpayers. (See “IRS Begins Its Metamorphosis,” JofA, Mar.99, page 23.)

In December, the IRS established the first of these units—the tax-exempt and government entities division, which serves three sectors: employee plans, tax-exempt organizations and government entities (including federal, state, local and Indian tribal governments). The three million taxpaying entities this division serves control more than $6.7 trillion in assets.

The other business divisions, which will be established in phases this year, are the large and midsize business division, the small business and self-employed division and the wage and investment division.

Senator Wins NSA Award

The National Society of Accountants (NSA) named Senator William V. Roth, Jr. (R-Del.), its 1999 Person of the Year.

The group praised Roth for his innovative sponsorship of the Roth IRA and his efforts on behalf of small businesses and individual taxpayers—including his support for tax cuts and IRS reform—and the strengthening of the Social Security system.

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