Can’t pay your 2012 tax bill by Monday?

If you have a tax bill for 2012 that you can’t quite pay, you do have options.

Even if you can’t pay in full, I’d highly encourage you to file your return on time. This way, you avoid the late filing penalties that can be added on to your tax liability, which can add up to 25% of your balance due. Also, try to pay as much as you possibly can with your return. If you are going to be filing an extension, pay as much as you can with your extension.

The IRS is currently charging a 4% annual interest rate, compounded daily, on all tax debts. On top of that, you will be subject to a failure to pay penalty, which will further increase your tax debt.

It may be worthwhile to consider using credits cards or a loan to pay your tax bill. When you consider the extensive penalties the IRS charges, your credit card interest rate may actually be quite a bit lower.

If you absolutely cannot pay your tax bill this year, then use either the online payment agreement request system at irs.gov, or complete Form 9465 to request a payment plan. You are not required to wait until the IRS bills you before requesting a payment plan.

The most important thing to remember is that, in order to avoid the wrath of IRS Collections, it’s in your best interest to be proactive about managing your tax debt. Don’t wait for the IRS to come to you: Take the high road, and address it head on.

If your tax debt is simply too large for you to pay in any reasonable amount of time, it’s worth considering your other options. Our Personal Tax Debt Toolkit provides complete guidance for resolving your back tax liabilities, particularly if your situation is more complex, such as multiple years worth of tax debt to address.

Don’t give the IRS the upper hand. Stay on top of your tax situation and address the issue long before the government starts coming after you.

IRS Increases Debt Ceiling For Streamline Installment Agreements

An IRS Installment Agreement, or payment plan, is the primary means by which taxpayers with tax debts settle up with the government. A special provision in the law allows the IRS to accept payment plans without reviewing your financial information, which they are otherwise normally required to do. These simpler payment plans are called a Streamline Installment Agreement.

Normally, applying for an IRS payment plan is literally like applying for a home mortgage loan, and requires extensive prying into your personal finances. Historically, the IRS will simplify this procedure if you owe less than $25,000 and can make large enough payments to pay off the tax debt within 5 years (60 months).

The IRS has issued new regulations regarding Streamline Installment Agreements, due to the continued economic difficulties and the fact that their collections case burden is skyrocketing and they don’t have the personnel to manage so many tax debts.

Now, the IRS will accept a Streamline Installment Agreement for taxpayers that owe up to $50,000. In addition, they will give you up to 6 years to pay it all off. This effectively makes the vast majority of tax debtors eligible for the program, allowing the IRS to expend resources chasing after people that owe much larger sums of money, and lessening the headache and aggravation they cause to middle class families that have enough to worry about without the threat of the IRS seizing funds in bank accounts or garnishing wages.

Setting up an Installment Agreement under these criteria can be done over the phone or on the IRS web site. Of course, you may wish to consult with a licensed tax professional to determine if another option, such as Status 53 or an Offer in Compromise, may be better for you financially. Oftentimes, individuals and small businesses that qualify for a Streamline Installment Agreement with a small payment amount may also be eligible for these other programs. Status 53, also called “Currently Not Collectible” status, doesn’t require you to make any payments, but does require full financial disclosure. An Offer in Compromise also requires full financial information from you, but allows you to settle your entire tax liability for some fixed amount that is less than what you actually owe.

As with most things in life, make sure that you explore all your options, and that you thoroughly understand both your rights and your obligations under any tax resolution program you enter into. Seeking advice from a qualified professional, even if you are going to negotiate a resolution on your own, is always suggested.