Tips If You Owe Taxes
Mailed Tax Bills.If you owe taxes, you will first receive a bill in the U.S. mail from the IRS which tells you your balance owed through a certain date indicated on the bill. Don’t fall for those calls from people claiming to be the IRS threatening criminal action against you if you don’t pay the amount they are demanding. The IRS will never make an initial contact with you by telephone without first having sent you written notice that you owe the IRS or are under examination. Of course if you have the available funds, you should pay the balance no later than the date indicated in the bill to avoid any extra charges. If you can’t pay in full, keep in mind that interest and penalties continue to accrue on the balance so any payment made to IRS will result in lower accruals of interest and penalties for the future.
Full Payment Agreements of up to 120 days. If you owe more tax than you can pay, you may qualify for more time -up to 120 days- to pay in full. You do not have to pay a user fee to set up a short-term full payment agreement. However, the IRS will charge interest and penalties until you pay in full.
Apply for an installment agreement.If you’re financially unable to pay your tax debt immediately, you can make monthly payments through an installment agreement. Before applying for any payment agreement, you must file all required tax returns and if you are required to make estimated tax payments, you must be current in making those payments. The IRS calls this “being in current compliance”. By being in current compliance, the installment agreement can now cover all tax periods with outstanding balances.
“No Verification” Installment Agreements. For individuals who owe $50,000 or less in combined individual income tax, penalties and interest, OR businesses that owe $25,000 or less in payroll taxes, you can have an installment agreement set up with IRS without presenting any financial information.
“Full Verification” Installment Agreements. For individuals and businesses that exceed the thresholds of the No Verification Installment Agreements, the IRS will require that full financial disclosure be made with your payment plan proposal. Be careful though because the IRS does limit certain expenses and depending on the type of installment agreement entered, you may not be able to get full credit for your actual living expenses. So if you are in this situation, it is best to hire tax counsel to compile the proposal and financial disclosures. If you do it on your own first and fail, your representative will not be able to “undo” what was already disclosed by you to IRS and that could then limit the representative in getting the optimum result.
Understand Your Installment Agreement & Avoid Default. Keep in mind that your future refunds will be applied to your tax debt until it is paid in full. Pay at least your minimum monthly payment when it’s due and if paying by check include your name, address, SSN, daytime phone number, tax year and return type on your payment. Make sure the check is mailed to the right address for delivery no later than the payment due date. File all required tax returns on time & pay all taxes in-full and on time as any new liability will default your installment agreement. Make all scheduled payments even if the IRS applies your refund to your account balance.
If you don’t receive your statement from IRS, send your payment to the address listed in your installment agreement.
There may be a reinstatement fee if your agreement goes into default. Penalties and interest continue to accrue until your balance is paid in full. If you are in danger of defaulting on your payment agreement for any reason, it is a good idea to hire tax counsel who can seek reinstatement or even a medication where you can make lower monthly payments.
Check out an offer in compromise. An offer in compromiseor OIC may let you settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. An OIC may also be helpful if full payment may cause you financial hardship. Not everyone qualifiesafter all, when you are looking for a discount on your IRS liability the government wants to make sure that collectability of the full liability plus interest and penalties is highly doubtful before granting a discount.
An offer in compromise allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. It may be a legitimate option if you can’t pay your full tax liability, or doing so creates a financial hardship.
The IRS will consider your unique set of facts and circumstances with a focus on your income and expenses to determine your ability to pay and your asset equity.
The IRS will generally approve an offer in compromise when the amount offered represents the most the IRS can expect to collect within a reasonable period of time.
Make sure you are eligible
Before the IRS can consider your offer, you must be current with all filing and payment requirements. You are not eligible if you are in an open bankruptcy proceeding and if you file for bankruptcy while your OIC is being evaluated, the IRS will stop evaluation and return the OIC.
Submit your offer
The form to use in filing an OIC is Form 656. You must include payment of an application fee of $186.00 and a deposit towards the amount offered. Additional you must include financial disclosures. The main forms to use are Form 433-A (OIC) (for individuals) or 433-B (OIC) (for businesses) and these forms list all required documentation that must be included. Like installment agreement requests, the IRS limits certain living expenses so it make sense to engage tax counsel to pursue this process.
Select a payment option
Your initial payment will vary based on your offer and the payment option you choose:
Lump Sum Cash: Submit an initial payment of 20% of the total offer amount with your application. Wait for written acceptance, then pay the remaining balance of the offer in five or fewer payments.
Periodic Payment: Submit your initial payment with your application. Continue to pay the remaining balance in monthly installments while the IRS considers your offer. If accepted, continue to pay monthly until it is paid in full.
Understand the process. While your offer is being evaluated:
1. Your non-refundable payments and fees will be applied to the tax liability;
2. A Notice of Federal Tax Lien may be filed;
3. Other collection activities are suspended;
4. The legal assessment and collection period is extended;
5. Make all required payments associated with your offer;
6. You are not required to make payments on an existing installment agreement; and
7. Your offer is automatically accepted if the IRS does not make a determination within two years of the IRS receipt date.
If your offer is accepted you must meet all the Offer Terms listed in Section 8 of Form 656, including filing all required tax returns and making all payments for the next five years; Any refunds due within the calendar year in which your offer is accepted will be applied to your tax debt; and Federal tax liens are not released until your offer terms are satisfied.
If your offer is rejected you may appeal a rejection within 30 days after the determination letter has been issued by IRS. If though your offer is returned, you do not have this right of appeal and must start the OIC process all over again.