The Internal Revenue Service has extended innocent spouse relief to a greater number of taxpayers under newly proposed guidelines.

The new proposed guidelines are designed to offer relief to more innocent spouses who request equitable relief from income tax liability caused by unpaid taxes of their estranged spouses.

A Notice proposing a new revenue procedure, posted Thursday on IRS.gov, revises the threshold requirements for requesting equitable relief and revises the factors used by the IRS in evaluating these requests. The factors have been revised to ensure that requests for innocent spouse relief are granted under Section 6015(f) of the Tax Code when the facts and circumstances warrant and that, when appropriate, requests are granted in the initial stage of the administrative process.

The new guidelines are available immediately and will remain available until the finalized revenue procedure is published. The IRS said it would immediately begin using these new guidelines when evaluating equitable relief requests.

"The IRS is significantly changing the way we determine innocent spouse relief," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in a statement. "These improvements should dramatically enhance our process to make it fairer for victimized taxpayers facing difficult situations.”

This is the second major change made to the innocent spouse program. In July, the IRS extended help to more innocent spouses by eliminating the two-year time limit that previously applied to requests seeking equitable relief (see IRS Eliminates 2-Year Limit on Innocent Spouse Requests).

The IRS said it is inviting public comment on the proposed revenue procedure through Feb. 21, 2012. Comments can be emailed to Notice.Comments@irscounsel.treas.gov with “Notice 2012-8” in the subject line.

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