paying your tax bill
Unable to Pay Your Tax Bill Here’s What To Do

Unable to Pay Your Tax Bill? Here’s What To Do

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Another bill, oh no! It doesn’t feel great to file your tax return and find out you owe money. It’s like heading out the door and discovering your car won’t start! 

But don’t worry, you actually have several options if you owe money on your taxes. Here is some information to help decide which option is best for you.

What Are Your Options for Paying Your Tax Bill?

Request a Short Term Payment Plan

If you are unable to pay your tax bill because of temporary factors, you can file your tax return, then request an extension of time to pay. This extension will get you up to 180 days to make the payment. 

There are no fees to get the short term payment plan, but interest and penalties will apply to the full taxes you owe until they are paid off. You can request a short term payment plan online if you owe less than $100,000 in combined tax, penalties, and interest.

You may also qualify for an extension through Form 1127, Application for Extension of Time for Payment of Tax Due to Undue Hardship. Don’t forget, in order to get either extension, you have to file your income tax return in a timely fashion by the tax deadline.

Senior wife and husband listening to a financial advisor.

Request a Long Term Installment Agreement

Probably the most common way to handle a tax bill that you can’t pay immediately is to set up an installment agreement that allows you to pay your tax debt over six years. If you owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest and filed all required returns, you can request consideration for an installment agreement by going online and using the IRS Online Payment Agreement Application

The IRS does charge a setup fee for a long term installment agreement, and interest and penalties will also apply to the taxes you owe until they are paid off. Although you will be charged interest and late payment penalties until the taxes you owe are paid in full, the failure to pay rate is decreased from .5% to .25% per month while your installment agreement is in effect.

The IRS will typically respond to your request for an installment agreement within 30 days of your application. The IRS offers several convenient ways to make your payments under an installment agreement, including:

  • 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
  • Payment by Online Payment Agreement (OPA)

If you apply for the installment agreement using IRS Online Payment Agreement Application and request the payments to be directly debited (automatic monthly payments) from your bank account, the setup fee is $31 if you apply online or the setup fee is $107 if you apply by phone, mail or in-person. 

If you set up an installment agreement with payments made via non-direct debit and apply online you may be charged a $130 set up fee or $225 set up free if you apply by phone, mail, or in-person.  

If you are applying to revise an existing installment agreement online, the fee is $10, but if you apply to revise by phone, mail, or in-person the fee is $89.

The online request is the best route right now as you may experience delays trying to request an installment plan by mail or via the phone. 

Your monthly installment payment should be based on your ability to afford the payments, that way you don’t default on the agreement. You have to specify the monthly amount, as well as the day of each month that the payment will be made (it can be anywhere between the 1st and the 28th of the month).

Woman reviewing a payment plan.

Offer In Compromise

Offers in Compromise require a $205 application fee. (Exception: If you are an individual and meet the Low-Income Certification guidelines, you are not required to send any money with your offer. If your inability to pay your tax bill is due to permanent factors, such as a job loss or business failure, you can request an offer in compromise (OIC) from the IRS.)

In an OIC, you work out an agreement with the IRS in which you will pay a reduced amount of the taxes you owe, which the IRS agrees to accept as full payment of the obligation. In order to be considered for an OIC, all filing and payment requirements have to be current. In addition, if you are in bankruptcy proceedings, you are not eligible for OIC.

Temporarily Delay the Collection Process

This is the type of agreement you may need in the event that you will have no ability to pay your full tax liability in the foreseeable future (as opposed to a short term hardship). If you cannot pay any of your tax debt, then your account could be classified as “currently not collectible.” The IRS could then approve and temporarily delay collection until your financial condition improves.

Being currently not collectible does not mean the debt goes away, it means the IRS has determined you cannot afford to pay the debt at this time. Prior to approving your request to delay collection, you may be asked to complete a Collection Information Statement (Form 433-F, Form 433-A or Form 433-B) and provide proof of your financial status (this may include information about your assets, monthly income, and expenses).

Whichever method you choose, get the process started as soon as possible, and don’t hesitate to communicate with the IRS to let them know your situation.

Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules. No matter what moves you made last year, TurboTax will make them count on your taxes. Whether you want to do your taxes yourself or have a TurboTax expert file for you, we’ll make sure you get every dollar you deserve and your biggest possible refund – guaranteed. 

One response to “Unable to Pay Your Tax Bill? Here’s What To Do”

  1. Great Articles and information!!
    There are so many things to consider even for paying your taxes.
    But if we have to choose third option, we need to have money on our bank account otherwise we will won’t be eligible for third option.

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