IRS — can you name three other letters that have the power to raise your blood pressure as easily as the Internal Revenues Agency? Unless you’re wanted by the FBI, there probably isn’t another organization that gets you hot under the collar like the federal arm of the government.
Most people feel a little clammy around tax season as they get their finances in order, but studies show it’s usually because they’re feeling unprepared.
What happens when you end up owing money on your return — and worse still, you can’t pay it? That’s cause for concern, but don’t let stress cause you to miss a due date. There are payment options that help you pay back what you owe without facing late fees. Let’s take a look at three of them today!
Arranging a Payment Plan
The IRS offers payment plans (installment agreements) if you can’t repay your taxes all at once. They come in different shapes and sizes depending on your financial situation, ranging from short and long-term plans. If you’re approved, you may have an extension to pay your taxes back in several installments over more than 120 days.
Although their names may be similar, don’t confuse these with installment loans. These short term loans typically have higher APRs than the interest applied by the IRS. This, as well as their convenient online process and next-day funding, means installment loans are better suited for minor, short-term emergencies like a small auto repair you can’t manage on your own. To learn when it’s appropriate to use an installment loan, check this out for information on this alternative form of credit.
There’s another way these products differ from a payment plan with the IRS. Most online installment loan lenders don’t require collateral, so they can’t put a lien on your property like the government can.
If you fail to meet your installment payments, the IRS has the ability to file tax liens against your assets until you pay off what’s due. That’s why it’s important to read over the terms and conditions of your payment plan carefully, signing only when you know you can meet your installment agreement.
To help you avoid late penalties and defaulting, the IRS encourages you to use their online payment agreement tool to review your payment plan regularly. You may be able to revise your plan should changes in your income or lifestyle make it hard to meet your original plan.
Asking for an Extension
If you only need a little extra time to pay what you owe in full, you may be able to secure a simple extension from the IRS. Available through the online payment agreement application, an extension is a variation of the payment plans mentioned above.
The only difference is you’ll pay back your taxes in full rather than in installments. As a result, you’ll face fewer penalties and interest on your taxes. You’ll also avoid some of the fees that are applied to the long-term installment agreements.
Applying for Offer in Compromise (OIC)
If you can’t pay off your tax bill in full or over several installments, you may have the option to apply for an offer in compromise. As its name suggests, it’s all about coming to an agreement that works for both parties. If you’re able to prove you’re unable to pay your taxes within the scheduled time, the IRS may allow you to pay less than your total tax bill.
As it means the IRS will collect less than what they’re due, it’s uncommon for the IRS to grant an OIC.
There are some pretty strict regulations on how the IRS approves an OIC, as well as a lot of paperwork to prove without a doubt you’re experiencing severe financial difficulties. It also comes with a fee.
You can use the IRS’ pre-qualifier tool to see if you may be eligible before you waste time and money on this application. As this is designed only as a guide, make sure you discuss this option thoroughly with a tax advisor or accountant you trust before you apply.
Bottom Line: Don’t Delay!
There’s no doubt facing a large bill after Tax Day will be stressful, but don’t let your nerves get the better of you. Make your decision regarding your payment plan now. The faster you find the right solution to your tax problems, the fewer penalties and interest charges you’ll have to pay.