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I had a 1099-C for about $135,000. My husband didn't have any withholding on Social Security. His employer couldn't withhold due to incompetence. I felt utter dread wash over me. Memories of owing the IRS before were constantly on my mind. I called a local CPA. Besides being clueless, he wanted to charge me for every question I had about insolvency. I looked on line and found little hope of the countless stories of permanently disabled people like myself getting their student loans forgiven only to be asked to pay taxes on it as if it were income.
Somewhere, somehow, I find an article by Gary Bode. I bookmarked it for when it's time to do the actual taxes. With his excellent help in how to do all of this out of a virtual office I get my part of the work done. My questions got answered, for free. I give a retainer, do what I said I did and wait. I hear from Gary. I go into shock! How can this be? Not only do I not owe on the 135,000....Gary itemizes and after paying what was almost nothing in taxes we get $950.00 back! No more hubby doing the taxes online! I will use Gary Bode as long as he will agree to work with me!
It was so easy, no worries, but professional and top notch. I know I have thanked you Gary but I am so grateful. Thank you ever so much again!

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Injured Spouse CPA explains Form 8379 instructions | Tax Refund Garnishment

Injured Spouse CPA in Wilmington NC Explains Form 8379

Gary Bode, CPA: a partial tax refund is better than no refund! Having trouble with the Form 8379 instruction? Get a free phone consult with an injured spouse CPA. Call (910)  399-2705.

Injured spouse CPAs use IRS Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, to save part of a married couple’s IRS tax refund from being garnished by the IRS, to pay one spouse’s debt. The IRS acts as a collection agent for things like unpaid student loans, back child support and back taxes. When a Married Filing Jointly tax return generates a tax refund they garnish (seize) it to help pay these debts. This despite only one spouse having these tax seizure issues. Most of the questions I field from potential clients involve the complexity of the Form 8379 instructions. Even injures spouse CPAs generally rely on tax databases and software program help instead of reading the Form 8379 instructions.

The Form 8379 instructions are only four pages . One unique feature of the Form 8379 instructions is the “how to avoid common mistakes” section at the bottom of page 4. If you’re planning to self prepare Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, I suggest:

  • Form 8379 itself. Some of it is self-explanatory.
  • You may want to see if tax chain software covered Form 8379. Some don’t. Others support Form 8379, but not as automatically as say a W-2.
  • Going to the bookstore and peruse the tax books.
    • There are several good ones that explain Form 8379 better than the Form 8379 instructions themselves. They’d be a good place to start.
  • In any event these third party “guides” may jump-start your understanding of the Form 8379 instructions.

Here’s a typical scenario I ‘ve heard already in 2016.

A married couple, expecting a nice federal tax refund, finds an IRS notice in their mail box. It explains their lovely joinrefund went to a student loan company to satisfy one of the spouse’s prior obligation. Going, going, gone.

This post presents an example of how an Injured Spouse CPA might use Form 8379 to snag a part of that tax refund.

A partial tax refund is better than no tax refund.” 
– Gary Bode, injured spouse CPA and Form 8379 tax accountant

Filing Separately?

Injured spouse, in IRS lingo, means financial injury, not physical abuse. In our example Hubby has overdue student loans incurred indepenantly from his Wife. The IRS will garnish their entire tax refund, including the Wife’s share. An obvious solution, filing separate tax returns, is problematic and usually not the best approach. Filing jointly is almost always better for married couples.

How an Injured Spouse CPA might salvage a Partial Refund – A Form 8379 Example

Sometimes, a partial tax refund is salvaged using Form 8379, from a joint federal tax return where the entire tax refund would otherwise be seized. Here’s our example.

  • Hubby works for Injured Spouse CPA, LLC  and receives a 2016 W2 with $5,000 federal income tax withheld in Box 2.
  • Both spouses know he’s behind about $6,000 on his student loan payments.
  • The Mrs. works for Form 8379 Resolution, Inc. and receives a 2016 W2 showing $2,500 in Box 2.
  • So, $7,500 total was withheld from their paychecks for 2016.
  • They file a joint IRS Form 1040 in 2017 for 2016, using generic online tax preparation software, to generate a $4,500 tax refund. Happy, happy!
  • But the IRS eventually sends them a kind notice, explaining the entire $4,500 tax refund went to help pay Hubby’s student loan.
  • The entire $4,500 2016  tax refund is garnished.

Injured Spouse CPA solution? Keep part of the expected tax refund by filing tax Form 8379

The injured spouse CPA explains they could have filed tax Form 8379 with their 2016 1040, as an Injured Spouse claim, since Hubby’s overdue student loan payments were a known issue. Again, “Injured Spouse” refers to financial injustice not spousal abuse. In this case, the Wife is the injured spouse since it was Hubby’s student loan that caused the problem.

Form 8379 allows $1500 of the tax refund to be released:

Wifey’s share of the refund {[2500/(5000+2500)] * 4500}. They retroactively file an amended federal tax return on Form 1040-X, including Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.

Injured Spouse, Form 8379 Limitations

The Injured Spouse regulations don’t protect a tax refund if the debt is a mutual obligation. It is only applicable to earlier debt incurred by one spouse, usually for back taxes, back child support or student loans. Nor is the Injured Spouse defense the same as the Innocent Spouse, which I describe elsewhere.

We’re an injured spouse CPA firm that prepares Form 8379. Our virtual office allows us to offer excellent service to long distant clients. The 8379 instructions are a difficult read. Form 8379 tax preparation isn’t rocket science, but it takes a few times doing them to get it right, or at least it did with me. Read any of the hundreds of posts on this site to get a feel for our ability and proactive attitude. We try to anticipate tax issues like the injured spouse example above. For a free phone consult, call (910) 399-2705.

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42 comments to Injured Spouse CPA explains Form 8379 instructions | Tax Refund Garnishment

  • Nancy Sue Anderson

    How much to you charge to fill out the 8379 form???

    • Hi Nancy, I’m sorry you’re even thinking about filing Form 8379. There’s big range in the price as each case is unique. It depends on the required documentation, records etc. What we do is offer a half hour consult for $100 by phone. That gives me enough information to estimate your potential tax refund and give you a solid quote. Some Form 8379 cases aren’t cost effective. Hope that helps Nancy.

  • Michele

    i am totally confused on how to fill this form out. i was told to fill one out for state and federal. can you help? how much would i get back from this form

  • Tami


    First of all the IRS is a big joke. As of Jan 1st 2014, they can no longer answer specific questions on line. You have to refer to their website. So I have filed form 8379 the past 3 years, but now my husband’s wages are being garnished through work. I need to know if I have to still file form 8379. I still want my portion of the refund.

  • Karen Berryhill


  • Vonetta

    For my 2013 taxes I filed married filing joint even though my husband does not work. My husband owes back child support for South Carolina. The IRS has taken all of my return for his child support and I filed form 8379 will I be able to get all of my return back considering this is is debt not mine?

  • tiffany

    I filed injured spouse with our joint taxes. I do not work and i have student loan debit. After our taxes were excepted and direct deposit was set for april 9 it was held up for state taxes we both owed. In the mean time i received a letter from my student loan saying all the return is being applied. So will they pay our state debit and send a check to us? Does my injured spouse form still apply w my loan? I’m going crazy!!! Thanks for the help!!!

    • Injured Spouse relief could save your part of the refund if the IRS uses it to pay your Husband’s student loan. It wouldn’t save your refund from being used for your student loan. Hope that helped.

  • melissa

    My husband and I filed joint. Our refund ended up being applied to student loans he had prior to our marriage. We filed in CA, so it’s a community property state and is confusing and tricky. I’m trying to fill out form 8379. On part III, do I have to fill out all 3 columns?

  • Lissette Trozzi

    Just need to know what part 1 of injured spouse box 6 actually means. Are they asking basically if we have paid federal taxes like what appears on box 2 of w2s? So confused.

  • John

    Hi Gary,

    We are filing form 8379, but I am in disagreement with my accountant. She told us to check yes in line 6 because we had a W2, where I feel the W2 is covered in line 7 and line 6 is more for employers who made deposits on behalf of employee’s? Could you please clarify that for me? My wife is filing for earned income credit too, so the accountant has us checking yes to 6 which skips 7,8,9… But I feel we should check no to 6 and yes to 7,8, and 9.

  • India


    Do you actually assist with filling in the injured spouse form? The questions in Part III are very tricky. Also, your consult fee of $100 as stated above – is that fee taken out of the injured person’s refund?

  • annette

    Hello I have a question..Ok I receive ssi but my husband is the one with the dept for school loan can I still fill out an 8379?

  • Candace

    I just recently married. My spouse owes back child support. Is there anyway to protect my refund? Will the refund be split evenly? My income is much more than his as well and I pay more taxes up front so I can get a bigger refund.

  • Elizabeth

    For the past 3 years, my husband and I have filed a joint return and we have completed a form 8379 on his behalf to get his portion returned. After 3 years of this working perfectly, this year we get a letter stating they are applying the entire refund to my debt. How can they do that with no explanation and especially since again, the 8379 was filled out and sent with our return?

  • Travis whittaker

    Is there a time limit for filing a 1040x with a form 8379. to correct previous years that we filed married filiing seperatly?

  • Kimiko

    I have filed form 8379 Injured spouse with the IRS my request was approved, however i now must file the adjustments through my state Virginia do I mail this or can I e-file and which form is used for Virginia Injured Spouse.

  • Margie

    Husband I filed joint on 2013 but he literally forgot to include his income cause we were gunna file separate but accidentally send the wrong tax return. Now 2015 I filed separately as head of household cause we’re no longer together but IRS held my refund to offset for the income he never claim as joint. Spoke to him and he said he just now filed his 2013 tax return among with 2014 & 2015. How can I get my refund back for 2015 since it’s not my income that wasn’t in question. FYI I file for injured spouse by mail for that joint back in April 2015 and was told they never received so I faxed it last week three times just in case they said they didn’t receive it again. Please help, I’m going crazy cause I was depending on my refund to up date myself when with other obligations.

  • John

    every year i filling tax with 8379 and always confusing with question 7 & 9 on part 1
    do i have to check yes on 7? oh.. by the way i’m filling with 1099 with 2 children.
    in 2013 i checked no and i had a problem so i changed to yes and resubmitted but in 2014 i accidently checked no again but no issue at all… and this year for the year 2015 i also checked in no…
    very confusing… help

  • Carlin

    My wife had student loans that were owed and our entire refund was taken. We have two children together. Would they be included in the Credits area (part 3, question 17) on form 8379?

  • Kathryn A.

    I just heard of this injured spouse form and I’ve been garnished and refund has been taken since 2009 because my husband is self employed can I file for back refunds from Fed. as State

  • How did you find out when yor injured spouse form was accepted

  • Kristi

    Thanks for the great article. We already filed a 1040x and then got notified of the offset.
    Do you recommend sending a copy of the 1040X with the 8379 that will now be filed by itself, or just the form plus W-2s and 1099s for both spouses, as stated in the form instructions?

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