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Know Your Tax Rights as a Domestic Violence Survivor

Updated: Mar 16

Before I started to work on my IRS tax debt dilemma, first thing I did was contact the Texas Attorney General to see what I could do as a domestic violence survivor. To my surprise I came across an IRS memo from October 2016 specifically for domestic violence survivors explaining that taxpayers have the right to:


  • File a separate return even if married

  • Review the entire tax return before signing a joint return

  • Refuse to sign a joint return

  • Request more time to file their tax return

  • Ask the IRS for copies of prior-year tax returns

  • Seek independent legal advice


To ensure your safety, you can take the extra steps, such as changing your address, before you file your taxes. Also, there are tax credits you can apply for as well as free or low-income tax preparation services.


 

ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY PROGRAM

Most states has this type of program, I suggest contacting the office of the Attorney General just to make sure. For obvious reasons, I did not want my abuser to know where I was staying at. I knew that once I filed my protective order and tax debt relief application, he would find out because the address would be plastered on the paperwork. The address confidentiality program application process didn’t take long at all! I want to say it took about two weeks, maybe a little less. Once it is approved, they send you a laminated card with your PO address for your safekeeping. All of your mail that you direct to that PO Box address will then be forwarded to the address that you’re residing at. You can also take that card to the DPS office, change your drivers license address to the PO Box address provided.


If you have any further questions, feel free to call or email them. They were extremely nice and helpful via phone and email. Below is a link to the forms needed for the Address Confidentiality Program:


https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/crime-victims/forms-and-publications


Texas Address Confidentiality Program

Office of the Attorney General

PO Box 12199 MC069

Austin, TX 78711 - 2199

crimevictims@oag.state.tx.us

(512) 936-1750 • (888) 832-2322


To see if your state has this type of program:

https://victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/past-programs/stalking-resource-center/help-for-victims/address-confidentiality-programs



IRS CHANGE OF ADDRESS

Before you start applying for the Injured Spouse or Innocent Spouse Relief, you can request a change of address and use the PO Box address provided by the Attorney General. Below is the form link that you can print out:


https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8822.pdf



FREE TAX PREPARATION SERVICES

Baker-Ripley Tax Center

Free Tax Preparation (Houston, Texas)

https://www.bakerripley.org/services/baker-ripley-tax-center


The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

Free Tax Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers



TAX CREDITS YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR:


FURTHER RESOURCES:


 

Domestic abuse is not just physical abuse. You can control your finances as a survivor of domestic abuse. Understanding your tax rights play an important part in managing your finances and once you do, it will get easier to move on.



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