Dating back to 2008, with an overhaul in 2012, the IRS Fresh Start Initiative continues to aid taxpayers up to the current day. For both business entities and individual taxpayers, the Fresh Start Initiative’s goal is exactly as the name suggests. It facilitates the payment of tax debt, so that debtors may have a clean slate and start anew. But how exactly does the IRS Fresh Start Initiative provide help to taxpayers? Keep reading and discover if it’s an initiative that can help you get a “Fresh Start”.
UPDATE 4/14/2021: See our 2021 IRS Fresh Start Program Guide for a more recent overview or watch the video below.
How Does The IRS Fresh Start Initiative Provide Assistance With Tax Debt?
It’s important to understand that the IRS Fresh Start Initiative is not a single program that taxpayers in debt can sign up for. Instead, the initiative provides tax debt relief by enhancing payment options already in existence. Through the Fresh Start Initiative, the IRS provides “expanded access to streamlined” Installment Agreements and Offers In Compromise. Furthermore, the acceptance of either payment option by the IRS may qualify for a Lien Withdrawal.
The IRS Fresh Start Initiative & Changes On Tax Liens
To begin, the IRS now generally limits liens to tax debt over $10,000. They do have the authority to file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien for any amount. Perhaps the most significant and useful change due to the Fresh Start Program is the request for a lien notice withdrawal. Taxpayers that meet certain requirements and participate in the Direct Debit installment agreement may have their lien notice withdrawn. File an official request using Form 12277.
Installment Agreements & The IRS Fresh Start Initiative
One way taxpayers may benefit from the Fresh Start Initiative is through Installment Agreements. The changes to Installment Agreements by the Fresh Start Initiative make it easy to set up a 72-month payment plan. They also raise the debt threshold to less than $50,000, so that more individuals may qualify.
Stipulations of Installment Agreements through the Fresh Start Initiative require the establishment of direct debit payments. The easiest way to apply is through the IRS Online Payment Agreement tool. Those that don’t have internet access may fill out and mail in Form 9465.
If the amount of your tax debt is over $50,000, you may still secure an installment agreement with the IRS. The process requires an in-depth disclosure of your finances and assets. In such situations, the IRS generally asks for either Form 433-A or 433-F.
*Note: Though not typical in practice, the IRS may still require financial statements on Installment Agreements less than $50,000.
The IRS Fresh Start Initiative & Offers In Compromise
Through the Fresh Start Initiative, the IRS now has more leeway to accept an Offer In Compromise. Generally speaking, the IRS will accept a lesser offer than the total amount of tax debt due when certain conditions apply. First, the IRS must believe that the Offer In Compromise is the most they will be able to collect in a given time frame. Second, the IRS believes you cannot pay off the debt in a lump sum or over a reasonable time period with an Installment Agreement.
When determining if the IRS can have the Offer In Compromise accepted, the IRS considers many different financial factors. Fortunately, there is a tool on the IRS website that helps taxpayers determine whether or not they qualify for an Offer In Compromise. The tool is not a guarantee, but a good indicator that ensures you meet all the requirements.
Final Thoughts: Considering The Options
Every taxpayer has a different situation. Spend some time getting familiar with the options available under the Fresh Start Initiative. Once you find the payment option that fits your circumstances and the IRS approves it, stay true to your monthly obligation. Missing one payment can result in cancellation of the agreement, and reinstatement of any federal tax liens. If your finances change for the worst, you may then qualify for an Offer in Compromise.
If after examining all the options you still feel stuck or unsure of anything. Don’t hesitate to contact us. Our experts are happy to go over your case with a fine-tooth comb. We are unfaltering in our efforts to negotiate the best settlement offer on your behalf.