Hello again holyone,
The problem is that your husband is claiming a refund for $1,300 when he did not even make that much for the year. He is not eligible for this refund which is why they are claiming this is a frivolous return and they want to charge him a penalty.
When someone is incarcerated, they generally only make about 40 cents per hour, and sometimes even less than that. So if your husband even had income of $50 per month, that means he only had income for the year of about $600. No taxes would have been withheld from that money. So how is he claiming a refund for $1,300 when he never paid in any tax?
The only way you might get a refund without paying in any tax is if you qualify for the earned income credit
. However, being incarcerated and filing a separate return, he does not qualify for this credit.
I think that your husband claimed this earned income credit in error, which is what resulted in him thinking a $1,300 refund would be due, but he is not eligible for this refund. The best thing he can do is to withdraw his claim for this refund, and tell the IRS he made an error on his return. He should just tell them this was an honest mistake and that he did not realize he was not eligible for this credit. By doing that, they will hopefully waive the penalty they are requesting him to pay.
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Thank you holyone, and let me know if you have more questions. I will be happy to help you with whatever I can.