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Abused Wife with Mental and Physical Health Issues Qualifies for Innocent Spouse Relief.

(Parker Tax Publishing September 6, 2015)

Innocent spouse relief was appropriate where a taxpayer with mental and physical health issues suffered abuse at the hands of her husband and was afraid to question anything having to do with the tax return out of fear of retaliation. Hollimon v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo. 2015-157.

Candice Hollimon married Fadil Al Bakari in 2000. Hollimon is a respiratory care practitioner and struggles with bipolar disorder and diabetes. During their marriage. Hollimon and Al Bakari established Bay Area Staffing, which provided temporary staff to hospitals.

According to court records, Hollimon and Al Bakari's relationship has been rife with abuse perpetrated by both parties, and each of them has requested restraining orders against the other at various times. After one particular incident, Hollimon requested a restraining order against Al Bakari. That request was granted and, in 2010, the spouses separated and began living apart. Hollimon filed for divorce in August 2011.

In June 2011, while living apart, Hollimon and Al Bakari filed their 2009 joint income tax return. The return included a Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business, related to Bay Area Staffing. Although the return showed a balance due, Hollimon and Al Bakari did not pay the amount and the IRS assessed a deficiency. Hollimon and Al Bakari agreed to the adjustments and signed the Form 870, Waiver of Restrictions on Assessment and Collection of Deficiency in Tax and Acceptance of Overassessment, consenting to the assessment of tax and additions to tax. Subsequently, Hollimon filed a Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, for 2009. Al Bakari later filed a notice of intervention, and the case went to the Tax Court. Before trial, the IRS conceded that Hollimon was entitled to innocent spouse relief under Code Sec. 6015(f), but Al Bakari continued to oppose relief.

According to Hollimon, she provided Al Bakari with her tax information and he prepared the return. She testified that because the restraining order was still in effect, she did not review the return. Instead, she gave Al Bakari permission to sign the return on her behalf. Hollimon also stated that she feared that questioning Al Bakari about the return could lead to additional abuse. Additionally, she said that she did not know that Al Bakari did not pay the full tax liability when the return was filed.

After considering the various factors for innocent spouse relief in Rev. Proc. 2013-34, the Tax Court found that Hollimon was entitled to relief under Code Sec. 6015(f). The record was clear, the court said, that the taxpayer suffered abuse at the hands of her husband and was afraid to question anything having to do with the tax return out of fear of retaliation. Additionally, the court noted that Hollimon was struggling with mental and physical health problems for many years, including the period when the return was filed and when the relief was requested, and this factor weighed in favor of relief. Of the other factors considered by the court, the factors were either neutral or weighed in Hollimon's favor.

For a discussion of innocent spouse relief, see Parker Tax ¶260,560. (Staff Editor Parker Tax Publishing)

Disclaimer: This publication does not, and is not intended to, provide legal, tax or accounting advice, and readers should consult their tax advisors concerning the application of tax laws to their particular situations. This analysis is not tax advice and is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer. The information contained herein is general in nature and based on authorities that are subject to change. Parker Tax Publishing guarantees neither the accuracy nor completeness of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for results obtained by others as a result of reliance upon such information. Parker Tax Publishing assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in tax laws or other factors that could affect information contained herein.

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