I owe back taxes. What are my options?

March 23, 2020 by Glynis Miller, CPA, MST
Back Taxes written on a computer screen

When you owe back taxes, the obvious option is just simply to pay whatever you owe in full and be done with it. While simple, in theory, it may not be that easy. Or even what is best for you. Why? The IRS assessment may be incorrect due to errors or missing information. Or, you may be able to settle for less than you owe. And of course, you may not have the money to pay them the amount owed. However, you may not know where to start, or you might fear taking matters into your own hands. Fear of the unknown will often leave one standing in their tracks, unable to move forward, even when going backward is not an option! Yet, doing nothing will not solve the problem.

It is totally understandable that owing a debt is stressful, but owing the IRS back taxes? Oh my, now that is a big stress. One of the biggest fears a taxpayer may have is to face a debt owed to the IRS and dealing with them to resolve it. But why is it so stressful? Well, as noted, the unknown can stop us from doing anything.

So, if you owe back taxes, there are options to resolve your back taxes, and TaxAudit can help. Here are a few possible options:

  1. Audit Reconsideration – Is that balance correct?
    1. If you were audited by the IRS and did not get a chance to respond, the notice could be incorrect. Requesting an “Audit Reconsideration” might be the option for you. Even though the IRS has closed the case if new information can be provided, a reconsideration of the assessment can be done.
    2. Maybe, you failed to file a tax return one year, and now the IRS sent you a bill. Submitting a complete return with all of your correct income, deductions, and credits for an audit reconsideration might be warranted.
  2. Offer in Compromise – Able to pay, but not the full amount?
    1. Possibly, you owe for several years, and now your finances have taken a big hit, too. Someone in that situation might benefit from an Offer in Compromise. In an offer in compromise, your financial status is taken into consideration to determine how much you can pay. It is possible that after a review of your finances, the IRS is willing to accept less than the full amount you owe to settle your account.
  3. Installment Agreement – Able to pay, but not all at once?
    1. Perhaps if you could make payments, you would be able to pay the balance owed.

These are just a few of the options available to resolve issues with back taxes. Keep in mind that all options are not created equally. In other words, what works for one taxpayer may not work for you. The goal of the IRS is to collect the taxes due, and thus various options are available to taxpayers. Whether it be an installment agreement, audit reconsideration, offer in compromise, or penalty abatement, TaxAudit has a specialist that can work with you to determine the best course of action for your circumstances.

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Glynis Miller, CPA, MST
Tax Content Developer


Glynis began her career with TaxAudit in February 2006 as a Seasonal Tax Return Reviewer. In December of 2008, she joined the permanent staff as an Audit Representative. Glynis has been an instructor for both continuing education tax classes and various staff training classes since 2009. Glynis holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and a Master’s Degree in Taxation. Prior to joining TaxAudit, Glynis worked in private and public sectors of accounting. She has worked at regional accounting firms preparing tax returns, financial statements, and audit services. Her professional career has spanned over a wide variety of industries from advertising, construction, commercial real estate, farming, manufacturing and more. In 2017, Glynis joined the Learning and Development Department as a Tax Content Developer. She is providing a wealth of accounting and tax knowledge, writing skills, current job awareness, and a very cross-functional skillset to the team. 


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