Paying Your Income Tax Bill

With the close of Tax Season 2017 less than a month away, it is likely that many taxpayers will end up being faced with a tax bill in excess of what they are able to pay. When this situation occurs and your tax bill exceeds your available financial resources, the best approach is to face the situation head on. To ignore the problem and hope that it will go away will only make matters worse. Not only will this approach result in an increased back tax balance due to the continued accumulation of penalties and interest, but it could ultimately result in the initiation of a tax lien or some other type of enforced collection activity by the IRS.

One of the easiest options for paying a tax bill when the necessary funds are not immediately available is to request short term administrative extension. This agreement postpones the payment of the tax amount due for 120 days, at which time the balance must be paid in full. However, although payment of the tax balance is postponed, a failure-to-pay penalty of one-half of one percent of the tax amount due will be charged each month during the grace period. Other no hassle payment options include charging the tax debt to a credit card, withdrawing the necessary funds from a retirement account or taking out a bank loan to cover the tax amount owed. When considering any of the aforementioned choices, the cost of borrowing should be weighed against any interest or penalties that will be assessed by the IRS or state tax agency.

In the absence of a borrowing alternative, a taxpayer who is short on financial resources can request setting up an IRS Installment Agreement. Such an agreement provides a means of paying off a back tax balance by making regular monthly installment payments. Although a small origination fee is charged, approval for this tax settlement option is almost automatic as long as the requesting taxpayer owes less than $10,000 and is in otherwise good standing with the IRS. The taxpayer is normally allowed to set the amount of the monthly installment payment as long as it will result in the full balance of the tax debt being paid off within five years form the date the agreement is initiated.  

Tax resolution options which involve settling a tax debt for less than full amount owed are harder to obtain but may be a viable alternative for taxpayers who meet certain specific qualifying criteria set by the IRS. Such partial payment tax settlement options include the IRS Offer in Compromise and the IRS Partial Payment Installment Agreement, among others. In general, the IRS only grants these tax settlement options when they determine that the taxpayer in question is very unlikely to be able to pay the full balance of the tax debt they have accumulated within a reasonable period of time.

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