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Working with the IRS to Pay Your Taxes

by Michael W. Blitstein, CPA

I’ve frequently heard of both businesses and individuals being “surprised” at the amount of tax being due with the filing of tax returns. Maybe some of you reading this article have experienced this. While the initial shock is unsettling, not being able to pay your taxes may not be as bad as you think it is. Everyone has heard the stories of the IRS taking homes, cars, boats, and other assets that devastate people’s lives. The reality is the IRS is very willing to work with taxpayers who are having financial problems. The IRS will only pursue harsh collection actions if they have exhausted all other options and feel they are working with a taxpayer who is not willing to work with them.

One important thing to realize when picking a method to pursue is that the IRS will analyze your financial situation and will not allow you a method that is meant for people in worse situations than your own. Below are four common methods used by taxpayers, depending upon their tax and financial circumstances.

1. IRS Installment Agreement
This is by far the most common method for individuals to pay their taxes when they cannot pay in full. With an installment agreement the taxpayer will be allowed to pay the taxes owed in monthly increments. If the taxpayer remains current on their monthly payments they will be considered in good standing with the IRS. There are actually four different types of installment agreements that can be used. The installment agreement used is determined by how much is owed in taxes, how much the taxpayer can afford to pay, and how long it will take the taxpayer to pay off the...

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