IRS Debt Forgiveness : How It Really Works Explained By A Tax Attorney

What is IRS Debt Forgiveness?

IRS Debt Forgiveness Explained - Understanding Tax Debt Forgiveness Program With Free Guides

IRS Debt Forgiveness is basically paying less than you owe to the IRS, getting part of the debt forgiven.

The most common types of tax debt forgiveness are:

  • Offer In Compromise
  • First Time Penalty abatement based on prior compliance
  • The debt falling off after the statute of limitation expires (not really forgiveness, but similar)

Offer In Compromise – settling for less than you owe

Offer In Compromise is your basic tax debt settlement. It’s based on a calculation that consists of your monthly income, monthly expenses, and assets, the IRS may accept less than you owe for the tax debt.

You might see tax relief company ads that state you can settle tax debt for “pennies on the dollar” or for 90% off.

We often get settlements accepted for a fraction of a penny on the dollar. For example, we had a client with a debt of almost $250,000 settle for $100. The truth is a lot of people just do not qualify, but a lot of companies sell this as a viable option to potential clients.

One of the differences between speaking to a tax relief company and someone from our tax law firm is we will give you a realistic outlook on your results. The Offer In Compromise is “oversold” by many tax relief salespeople.

Click here for more information on IRS Offer In Compromise.

First Time Penalty Abatement – The easiest IRS debt forgiveness

The second common form of tax debt relief is a First Time Penalty abatement. The IRS looks at the first year in a series of years for which you owe taxes. If you did not get a penalty posted to your account for at least 3 years prior to that first year of debt, you should be able to get a first-time penalty abatement.

Now there’s a correct time to do the penalty abatement, and it’s after you have paid off the base tax and interest on the first year you owe. 

A lot of tax relief firms also make all penalty abatements seem quite easy. The reality is the first time abatement is easy. Getting approved for other years can be quite difficult and the odds are not so great. You need good reasons for not paying the taxes on time that amount to reasonable cause to get penalties abated on the other years you owe. We really do not take a lot of cases that are just penalty abatements. It’s often not worth it for the client.

If you paid off taxes in the last two years you still might be able to get some of that penalty back. Either paid as a refund or applied to other debts.

Click here for more information on the IRS First Time Penalty Abatement.

Debt expiring after about 10 years – Collection Statute Expiration Date

The third type of tax result that some may consider tax debt forgiveness,  but is really more of a legal technicality, is the debt expiring after about 10 years. The IRS has 10 years to collect on a debt from the time it was assessed, with some exceptions. The assessment time is usually when they send the letter out for the tax debt.

This timeframe can get extended for various reasons: filing an Offer In Compromise, when bankruptcy is pending, when certain appeals are pending, and when a payment plan or non-collectible request is pending. For a lot of cases, it really is just the 10 years and it is gone. 

Typically the IRS will try to garnish and levy the taxpayer before that ten year is up. In some of those cases, the taxpayer might still get some of the tax debt to be forgiven by being in a payment plan that does not pay off the tax debt before it expires, which is called a partial pay installment agreement.

Click here for more information on Collection Statute Expiration Dates.

Need help? Speak to an expert tax attorney or check out our help guide

If you are looking for help to resolve your own IRS debt case, schedule a consultation with one of our expert tax attorneys by clicking here or calling (888) 515-4829.

If you are doing your case on your own, check out our free tax relief help guide. You can also ask a question below by posting a comment or post a comment on one of the videos on our YouTube channel and well do our best to assist you.

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