If you cannot pay the full amount of taxes you owe, you should still file your return by the deadline and pay as much as you can to avoid penalties and interest. You also should contact the IRS to discuss your payment options at 1-800-829-1040.
The agency may be able to provide some relief such as a short-term extension to pay, an installment agreement or an offer in compromise. In some cases, the agency may be able to waive penalties. However, the agency is unable to waive interest charges which accrue on unpaid tax bills.
An installment agreement allows you to make a series of monthly payments over time. The IRS offers various options for making monthly payments, such as:
Direct Debit from your bank account
Payroll Deduction from your employer
Payment via check or money order
Payment by Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS)
Payment by credit card via phone or Internet, or
Payment by Online Payment Agreement (OPA)
A one-time installment agreement fee of $105.00 will be charged when you enter into an installment agreement unless you choose to pay through a Direct Debit from your bank account, in which case the fee is $52.00. Taxpayers with income at or below 250% of the Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines may apply for a reduced user fee of $43.00. You can request the reduced fee using Form 13844, Application For Reduced User Fee For Installment Agreements.
You also may request a short amount of additional time, up to 120 days, to pay in full. This payment arrangement does not carry a fee, however, interest will continue to accrue until the liability is paid in full.
An offer in compromise (OIC) is an agreement between a taxpayer and the Internal Revenue Service that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. If the liabilities can be fully paid through an installment agreement or other means, the taxpayer will in most cases not be eligible for an OIC.
In most cases, the IRS will not accept an offer unless the amount offered by the taxpayer is equal to or greater than the reasonable collection potential (the RCP). The RCP is how the IRS measures the taxpayer’s ability to pay. The RCP includes the value that can be realized from the taxpayer’s assets, such as real property, automobiles, bank accounts, and other property. In addition to property, the RCP also includes anticipated future income, less certain amounts allowed for basic living expenses.
The IRS may accept an OIC based on three grounds. First, acceptance is permitted if there is doubt as to liability. This ground is only met when genuine doubt exists that the IRS has correctly determined the amount owed. Second, acceptance is permitted if there is doubt that the amount owed is collectible. This means that doubt exists in any case where the taxpayer’s assets and income are less than the full amount of the tax liability. Third, acceptance is permitted based on effective tax administration. An offer may be accepted based on effective tax administration when there is no doubt that the full amount owed can be collected, but requiring payment in full would either create an economic hardship or would be unfair and inequitable because of exceptional circumstances.
In general, a taxpayer must submit a $150 application fee along with the application. There are two exceptions to this requirement. First, no application fee is required if the offer is based on doubt as to liability. Second, the fee is not required if the taxpayer is an individual (not a corporation, partnership, or other entity) who qualifies for the low-income exception. This means that the taxpayer’s total monthly income falls at or below 250 percent of the poverty guidelines published by the Department of Health and Human Services. If the total monthly income falls at or below the poverty guidelines, the taxpayer may submit a Form 656-A (PDF), Income Certification for Offer in Compromise Application Fee and Payment, instead of the $150 application fee.
Please contact us to discuss your situation if you cannot pay taxes owed as soon as possible.