Articles Posted in Tax Debt

How to Negotiate an Installment Plan With The IRS
An IRS installment plan is an agreement to pay your tax debt back over time in monthly payments. When you owe a tax debt to the IRS, they have a number of ways of collecting from you, including levying your bank account or wages, seizing your state tax refund, or seizing your home and selling it at an auction. An installment agreement is one strategy that can be used to halt these collection activities.

Before you consider negotiating an installment plan, you should be aware that there are other options that may be able to reduce your tax debt. If you are unable to pay back your tax debt, you may qualify for an Offer in Compromise. You may also consider using a tax bankruptcy, obtaining innocent spouse relief, or disputing the amounts you owe to the IRS.

All of these strategies can be used to effectively wipe out some or all of your tax debt, and they can also be combined with installment agreements in some cases. Consult with a tax attorney before you commit to a monthly payment plan with the IRS.

How to Get California Income Tax Relief
California tax problems can come as a result of an IRS tax audit, if the IRS sends the result to the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB). The FTB can also initiate its own audit, or you can simply find yourself in a difficult financial situation and be unable to pay your California income tax debt.

The FTB offers a number of ways to get tax relief. If you have a complex tax situation that requires professional assistance, talk to a tax attorney before you agree to any tax relief programs.

Installment Agreements

Can You Be Liable for Your Spouse’s Tax Debt
Married taxpayers often choose to file joint tax returns because of the higher standard deduction amounts, marginal tax rates thresholds, and other benefits. One aspect of joint filing that taxpayers are sometimes unaware of is that both taxpayers are jointly and severally liable for the taxes due, as well as any penalties or interest that are imposed by the IRS.

Joint and Several Liability for Tax Debt

Joint and several liability means that the IRS can go after either taxpayer (or both) for the full amount of the tax debt. Even if you later divorce, the IRS can go after you for tax debt from previous tax years when you filed a joint return.

When to Work With a Tax Litigation Lawyer as Well as a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you have a large amount of tax debt, it is possible that you also have other types of debt that are causing financial difficulties. You may be considering bankruptcy if you have a combination of tax debt, secured debt, and unsecured debt. In this case, you might be unsure whether to seek advice from an expert tax litigation lawyer or a bankruptcy lawyer.

When to Talk to a Tax Litigation Lawyer

There are certain tax issues that require assistance from a tax lawyer, regardless of whatever other financial problems you are experiencing. If you have any of the following issues, you should contact a tax attorney:

Can You Request the IRS Waive Penalties Based on Medical Hardship
The IRS may offer penalty relief for taxpayers who can show a reasonable cause for failing to file tax returns or pay taxes. IRS penalties can be waived in certain cases, but the IRS will examine all of the facts and circumstances to determine if a reasonable cause exists in your particular case.

A typical situation that the IRS will consider a sound reason for failing to file or pay taxes is death, serious illness, incapacitation, or unavoidable absence of the taxpayer or a member of the taxpayer’s immediate family. If you owe a substantial amount of IRS penalties, you may want to consult with a tax attorney.

Facts Need to Establish Reasonable Cause Due to Medical Hardship

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.

What Are the Penalties for Failing to File IRS Tax Returns
Timely filing of IRS tax returns is always preferable to missing deadlines and facing tax return penalties for doing so. Failing to file tax returns leaves you liable for some potentially expensive penalties. Depending on how late, the amount of taxes involved and how many years of returns are delinquent, the consequences can be quite severe.

Here is a look at the penalties for failing to file tax returns:

  • Failure-to-file penalties begin after the April 15 deadline and accrue at a rate of 5% of the amount owed, per month or part of a month up to a maximum of 25%.


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 I Go to Jail for Failure to File Tax Returns
Failure to file tax returns can be classified as tax fraud by the IRS. While that term does manage to make it sound much more serious, failure to file by itself doesn’t often result in jail time.  Still it’s not impossible—just ask Wesley Snipes! Usually though, the government wants taxpayers earning money so it can collect those taxes. Sending non-payers to prison isn’t going to facilitate that.

The federal or California state government would have to be convinced that your failure to file taxes was intentional before considering something as severe as a jail term. Failure to file over many years, coupled with other bad conduct such as hiding assets, for example, could be subject to criminal penalties including imprisonment and/or fines. In lesser cases, you are more likely going to be liable for back taxes and civil penalties, plus interest.

Failure to File Tax Returns and Failure to Pay

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.