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Articles Posted in Offers in Compromise

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, the IRS has provided relief to taxpayers by extending filing and other deadlines. Now, in an internal memorandum from Fred Schindler the Director of Headquarters Collection (SBSE), the IRS continues to provide relief to taxpayers with tax debt by suspending most tax collection activities. These changes mirror the previous relief provided by the IRS, and restates the relief contained in the People First Initiative.  Our tax litigation attorneys are advising our clients that they can expect enforced tax collection activities to be suspended unless there is an exigent circumstance including the loss of the opportunity for the government to collect taxes due. The expiration of the statute of limitations is one example.

The importance of the memo is that while it mostly repeats and fleshes out the People First Initiative, it is a direct “order” from the head of SBSE Collection to all Collection Executives. The People First Initiative is a bit more nebulous in terms of its actual impact on the activities of rank and file employees.  The collection activities outlined in the memo include most activities related to the collection process such as meeting with taxpayers, filing new Notices of Federal Tax Liens (NFTL), issuing levies, taking or scheduling seizures actions, and pursuing civil suit proceedings. Automated tax levy programs are also suspended. The memorandum also directs Collections not to default installment agreements for missed payments due between April 1 and July 15, 2020 (the suspension period).  Due to the ongoing and ever changing nature of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, the IRS may extend the suspension period and the incorporated relief provisions further.

It is important for taxpayers and their advisors to remember that even though collection enforcement activity will be rare from now through July 15th, once the suspension period ends the IRS may begin filing liens and levies with a vengeance. Our tax lawyers are therefore recommending to our clients that, to the extent practicable, they position themselves to take appropriate action to forestall collection after the suspension period ends. This includes submitting offers in compromise, and requesting installment agreements now.

Why Offers in Compromise Get Rejected
The Offer in Compromise (OIC) is an excellent program for potentially eliminating tens of thousands of dollars in tax debt, but first, your offer must be accepted by the IRS. Taxpayers may have seen advertisements promising that their tax debt can be settled for pennies on the dollar with an OIC, but not everyone is eligible for an OIC, and those that are eligible must follow the program’s guidelines carefully. For some taxpayers, an OIC will only be accepted after negotiations and possibly appealing an OIC rejection.

Determining Your Collection Potential

The IRS accepts an OIC when it determines that the offer is the most that they can reasonably expect to collect from you based on your financial information. If you receive a rejection letter from an offer specialist, it will often be because the IRS believes that your offer does not represent the most that they can get from you.

Can a Business Benefit from the IRS Offer in Compromise Program?
The IRS Offer in Compromise (OIC) program is commonly associated with taxpayers who owe tax debt, but have insufficient assets or resources to pay it off. The IRS will agree to settle the tax debt for less—sometimes significantly less—than the amount owed if the taxpayer agrees to pay as much as the IRS can realistically collect.

However, the OIC is also available for businesses, including businesses that are currently operating. This includes tax debt attributable to back payroll taxes.

First, the business must be current in filing all tax returns. The IRS will not even consider OICs from taxpayers that have not filed all required tax returns. They will return your OIC, and keep any money you sent as an initial deposit to be applied towards your outstanding tax debt.

Why You Should Consider an "Offer in Compromise" to the IRS
An Offer in Compromise (OIC) is a program that allows taxpayers to  settle their tax debt for a lump sum which is less than the total amount owed. The IRS will look at your ability to pay, income, expenses, and assets to determine how much they are likely to recover from you. If the IRS is convinced that you are offering them more than they can reasonably expect to recover from you, they may accept your OIC to settle your tax debt.

Why the IRS Accepts OICs

There are three reasons that they IRS will consider accepting your OIC. First, if you can show that you do not actually owe the money to the IRS. This is referred to as an offer in compromise based on doubt as to liability.


When faced with tax problems, managing the debt without destroying your budget can be daunting. Depending on how much you owe, it could take years to get out from under the financial burden. The longer it takes, the more penalties you face, including interest and potential tax liens or levied assets.

Fortunately, the IRS offers several programs to ease that burden and in some cases reduce the total amount you will need to repay. These programs have been augmented to provide greater tax relief as part of an IRS policy change known as the Fresh Start Program.

Offers in Compromise (OIC) 

Can Back Taxes and Penalties Be Negotiated
Back taxes can be financially crippling both to you and your business. If your tax debt is more than you can afford to pay back in a lump sum, or if you think there may be some error on the part of the government in assessing how much you owe, you do have some options at your disposal.

Offer in Compromise to Reduce Back Taxes

One such option is known as the Offer in Compromise, which is an application to reduce your tax liability to less than the full amount you owe, under certain circumstances. Acceptance of an OIC is at the discretion of the IRS and is based on a combination of factors including your ability to pay, income, assets and total expenses. To be eligible to submit an Offer in Compromise, you must be current on all your tax filings and not be in a bankruptcy proceeding.

An Offer in Compromise (OIC) can be one of the best ways to avoid an IRS tax levy, and to reduce your tax debt if you have fallen far behind. Earlier this month I was speaking with a senior IRS collection official about Offers in Compromise, and he brought up an iMoney Pic.jpgnteresting point. First, a little background. The IRS will allow taxpayers to reduce the amount of their tax debts if the IRS concludes that it is unlikely that the tax debt will be paid during the remaining time the IRS has to collect. This time period is referred to as the Collection Statute Expiration Date or CSED. If the tax can’t be paid during the CSED then the IRS may accept a settlement amount.

The IRS calculates this settlement amount, by adding the taxpayer’s net realizable equity in assets to the amount collectible from future expected income after payment of “necessary” living expenses. This is known as the reasonable collection potential or RCP. The amount collectible from future expected income is determined based upon the period over which the taxpayer proposes to make payments. If the payment period is from 1 to 5 months then the future income is determined over a 12 month period. On the other hand, if the taxpayer wishes to make payments over more than 5 months (up to a maximum of 24 months) then the future income is calculated over the entire 24 month period.

To take a simple example. Assume a taxpayer owes the IRS $300,000, and has assets of $25,000. In addition, she has monthly income, after necessary living expenses, of $2,000. If the taxpayer can pay the offer amount in 5 months or less than the RCP, the amount offered, would be $49,000 ($25,000 + 12 months x $2,000). On the other hand, if the taxpayer needs more than 5 months, then the RCP would be $73,000 (25,000 + 24 months x $2,000).

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