After doing your taxes, you might find out you owe a hefty tax bill to the IRS. Millions of people owe the IRS every tax season and coming up with the money all at once can be a big financial burden. While you probably won’t be able to get out of paying the IRS, you do have some options if you can’t afford to pay all at once.
The first bill you receive from the IRS contains the amount of money you owe and requests payment in full. But if you can’t afford it, here are your options for paying your IRS tax bill.
1. Installment Agreement
The IRS may allow you to sign up for an installment agreement, which permits you to pay off your tax debt through monthly installments. You can apply for an installment agreement through the Online Payment Agreement Application or by completing and submitting Form 9465. There is a user fee to set up an installment agreement, which may be reduced or waived for people with low incomes.
If you choose to participate in a direct debit or payroll deduction installment plan, you may qualify for lower user fees. These plans directly debit your bank account or deduct from your paycheck automatically each month; if you want greater control over your cash flow or you don’t wish to give the IRS permission, you can submit payments yourself.
Late penalties and interest fees can be imposed on overdue tax bills, and they continue to accrue as you make installment payments.
2. Partial Payment Installment Plan or Offer in Compromise
If you can’t pay in full under an installment plan, you may be able to qualify for a partial payment installment plan (PPIA). A PPIA allows you to pay a reduced total amount through monthly installments over a predetermined repayment period.
An Offer in Compromise (OIC) allows you to settle your tax liability by offering full payment of a reduced amount. Among other requirements, you must have filed all tax returns and made all estimated quarterly tax payments for the prior year. Taxpayers in an open bankruptcy proceeding are ineligible to participate. To find out if you may qualify for an OIC, you can use the IRS Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier online.
Tax debts in PPIA or OIC can continue to accrue interest and penalties until they are paid.
3. Temporarily Delay of Collection
If you can’t pay your tax bill because it would prevent you from affording basic living expenses, you can ask the IRS to delay collection until you have the ability to pay. If the IRS agrees you can’t pay your tax debt due to financial hardship, the IRS may delay collection until your financial situation improves. This doesn’t mean the debt goes away, and penalties and interest continue to accrue until you’ve paid off your debt in full. You may have to provide proof of your financial situation before the IRS delays collection.