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If I'm reading the details correctly, if she files the innocent spouse form, it could take up to 6 months for her to be notified as to whether they intend to allow it. In the meantime, she's supposed to file.

Forget those instructions; it's the wrong process, as I noted in another post. File an injured spouse claim on Form 8379. According to the instructions, processing time for an electronically filed return is approximately 11 weeks.

She may be better off just filing separately. I'll get her to check with a tax professional near where she lives.

In an earlier post you mentioned that the major source of refund is the Earned Income Credit. That credit is not available to filing status Married, Filing Separately, so the effect of MFS filing would be to leave a chunk of change on the table. Even if it all went to the state, it would reduce the amount he owes, thus reducing the length of time they're going to face this problem.

Given the overall picture I'd vote for a joint return with the injured spouse claim. "Her" money doesn't stay hers even on separate returns because of the community property rules, so he's going to get some of it applied to his liability regardless of filing status. Add to that the "bonus" EIC, and to me joint is a clear winner toward their long-term goals, even if she feels ill-served in the short-run.

But at the end of the day it is 100% her choice. No one can force you to file a joint return.

Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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