IRS Debt Relief: Understanding the Offer in Compromise (OIC) Program

While being in debt to any creditor is stressful, owing money to the IRS can be terrifying – and with good reason. Basically, the IRS is the country’s (and probably the world’s) largest and best-resourced collection agency. If you’re on their radar screen, you’re going to stay there until the matter is resolved.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend sleepless nights and stressed-out days trying to find a way forward — because an Offer in Compromise (OIC) may be exactly what you need.

The OIC is an IRS program that allows you to settle your tax liability for less than you owe, provided that you can demonstrate financial hardship, and that your offer (which will be verified by financial disclosure) represents the most that you can feasibly pay. If the IRS believes that you can pay your debt in full through installments or other means, they won’t approve your OIC application.

While the OIC can be the financial lifeline that you’ve been searching for, it’s very important to keep in mind that upon acceptance you’ll be subject to a five-year probation period during which you must:

  • Comply with all IRS’s rules, which includes filing your tax returns on time and paying any taxes owed in full.
  • Pay any additional liabilities that the IRS assesses. For example, if through an OIC you are allowed to pay 70 percent of your tax liability for the 2015 tax year, and a subsequent IRS audit of your 2015 tax return results in an additional liability, this new amount will not be grandfathered into the OIC and must be paid promptly.

Failure to meet either of these provisions will result in the OIC being revoked. If this happens, the IRS will reduce your tax liability by the amount you paid, but will also add interest and penalties up the current date. This means you’ll be worse off than when you started.

It’s also important to know that if your OIC covers a joint tax debt (e.g. joint tax return for you and your spouse), and during the probationary period one of you fails to comply with the provisions, then only the non-compliant party will be in default of the OIC. The compliant party will not be subject to having the OIC revoked for their share of the tax liability.

To learn more about qualifying for or applying to the OIC program, visit the IRS’s website at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/offer-in-compromise-1. It’s also highly recommended that you consult with an experienced tax attorney before applying, so that you can ensure you have clear, accurate information on what’s ahead – and don’t make mistakes that could result in your application being rejected; or worse, trigger a chain of events that eventually turns into a costly and prolonged IRS audit.

Tax reminders? Staying up to date.

Whether it’s literally “tax time” or not, it’s important to recognize that the best way to file your taxes is to stay on top of them year round. This might not sound like a particularly appealing idea to many people, and I understand the sentiment. The truth is that it really only takes a small amount of time to make sure that your information is in order and ready to be filed, and taking even just a few moments a month to double-check everything can dramatically help simplify the filing process.

Apply for a Federal Tax ID        

In addition to keeping track of your personal, financial, and professional information, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that you have the right kind of documentation. The IRS requires certain tax IDs, and you must be able to supply one in many cases in order to file your taxes completely and successfully. Sometimes this number is a Social Security Number, for example, and other times it is an Employer Identification Number. There are a variety of options, and you should pick the one that makes the most sense for your needs. If you don’t already have one, then you should apply for a tax ID.

IRS Application for EIN

You might be concerned if you don’t have the correct ID, and that’s understandable. Before you panic, however, it’s important to realize that you can fill out the IRS application for EIN at almost any time! In fact, most people can complete the application online, and it won’t take you days and days to finish. If you need an EIN but haven’t received one yet, then it’s time to complete the IRS application for EIN and get started!

Apply online for an IRS EIN/Tax ID Number at irs-ein-tax-id.com.

Taxes are funny!

Today’s post is a guest article from Matt Robinson. He is a tax accountant who has been helping taxpayers with major IRS tax debt problems for over 11 years now. His firm specializes in tax debt settlement and resolution. Seeing that taxes are generally a boring subject, I asked Matt if he thought he could bring a little smile to my readers this morning. Here’s what he came up with…

Putting A Smile to the Dreaded Tax Season: 10 Humorous Tax Stories

Nobody looks forward to April 15th, other than the majority of tax professionals who earn a living because of complicated tax codes. With that said, there are quite a few funny stories that I have read or encountered that should put a smile on your face.

1. Here is a great recent news story: Aaaron Zeff is the owner of Harv’s Metro Car Wash in Sacramento, California. Last month, two IRS agents showed up at his place of business requesting payment for back taxes. Aaron’s onsite manager was surprised. He was surprised not only because two IRS agents showed up at the Car Wash, but because they said the business owed 4 cents from the year 2006. The total tax bill with penalties and interest totaled $202.35. Yes, penalties can destroy your life if you fail to pay your taxes, especially if you do not file. In reality, did the IRS really need to send two IRS agents to collect $202.35?

2. Here is another recent news story: Diana Peffer, of Omaha, Nebraska received a letter from the IRS this year. When she went to open the letter, it said she owed a total of 4 cents in back taxes from the year 2007. It probably was an automated letter created by the IRS computer system because no one in their right mind would spend $5 dollars to get three cents back. Do you think she should send the IRS a 4 cent check so that they could send her a 1 cent refund? You make the call.

3. This news story is from this year as well. Genevieve Motola of New York gets a $5,700 tax bill from New York State. She’s 82 years old and it is unclear why she would receive such a large bill. It turns out the bill was from 20 years ago when she closed her store G&P Ceramics, Inc. Wow, hopefully this is not a sign that New York is about to go bankrupt, is it?

4. Although not as recent, this story needs mentioning. Cynthia Hess, AKA, “Chesty Love” of Indiana, was an exotic dancer who tried to deduct her $2,088 breast implants. The IRS rejected her claim and she sued the IRS in U.S. Tax Court. She won the case actually. She was able to prove, that the breast implants that left her with a size 56FF, allowed her to make money than she otherwise would have. No comment.

5. One of my friends, who is a CPA, always has a couple good stories for me. Tara, from New York, NY is an exotic dancer. She goes to see my friend  to file her 2009 taxes, but could not find her W-2. In this case, you would use Form 4852 to estimate your earnings and withholdings. She says she is not sure what she made but it is “definitely” between $7,000 and $10,000 for all of 2009. Yeah, and I am “definitely” going to be the next billionaire.

6. Sara P, of Orlando, FL  (a single, recently divorced, mother with two-children) attempted to file her taxes for her first time. Her ex-husband had always filed her taxes before so this was something new for her. She went to see my friend for help and as my friend tried to eFile her Federal tax return, he got it kicked back because there was a problem with the birthday for one of her sons. She insists that he does not know what he is doing and the birthday is correct. Anyway, she called my friend back a few days later and tells him she had remembered the wrong birthday for years. Really?

7. This is one crazy story. In 2008, William Magdalin of New York City, made regular deposits at his local sperm bank. After he made quite a bit of money, he tried to offset his earnings by taking a tax deduction for his “efforts.” He took it all the way to the US First Circuit Court of Appeals. Yes, he lost.

8. This is clever. A doctor tells a man with emphysema to exercise more. Therefore, he installs a swimming pool and tries to deduct the cost of the swimming pool. Surprisingly, the IRS agrees to the deduction because it was for medical purposes. The IRS allowed the man to take the deduction (which was really only the difference between his total cost and the value the pool added to the property).

9. Pet Food is Tax Deductible …Sometimes. A couple owned a junkyard and fed a bunch of stray cats. The couple argued that the cats were used to ward off snakes and rats that were living in the junkyard. The couple took the case to court and won! The IRS agreed that the cats kept the property safer for customers. Interesting.

10. This is a great story to end with. William Halby, a lawyer from New York, last year lost a tax deduction case in U.S. Tax Court. He tried to deduct $100,000 in expenses for prostitutes and pornography he paid for from 2004 to 2005. He argued his deductions were medical expenses and were justified as part of “sex therapy” because he was depressed and alone. The court ruled in favor of his deduction. No, I am kidding. The U.S. Court denied the deductions because not only is prostitution illegal but because no doctor would recommend such a thing.

– HAHAHA. Gotta love them taxes right? Thanks Matt for providing some, rather interesting, tax stories! Anyone out there have any random tax deduction stories they have heard through the grapevine?