Need an IRS Payment Plan? Let's Explore Payment Plan Options

October 13, 2022 by Steve Banner, EA, MBA
Woman Doing Financial Paperwork

Let me make sure I’ve got this straight - you owe money to the IRS and you can’t pay it all off right now. Is that why you’re already on your third espresso for the morning? Sure, I know you’re worried – and who wouldn’t be – but it’s not as bad as it seems. Let me get myself a cappuccino and you a decaf Earl Grey tea, and I’ll see if I can lay it all out for you. (I’m glad this café has a nice corner table for us.)

The first thing you need to realize is that you’re not the first person who has ever been in this position. Every day, the IRS deals with people who owe them way more than you do. This kind of thing happens way more often than you think, but no one likes to talk about it. The bottom line is that sooner or later, the IRS wants to get paid but, at the same time, the IRS is well aware that a lot of folks can’t pay up right away, just like you. That’s why they created some ways to work with you (and those who are in the same boat as you) to get things straightened out.

Apply For An Extension

In some circumstances, you can apply for an extension of up to 6 months to pay what you owe. This might apply to those single-income folks who have just lost their job and will be off work for a short period until their new job kicks in. Or it might help someone who is off work for a few months while they nurse a sick relative. The point is that the IRS may give you a few months extra if you can show them that paying the full amount now would cause you undue hardship. But although your deadline to pay would be pushed out for 6 months, interest would continue to be added to your debt until you pay it in full. And if you miss the deadline, penalties also get added.

Short-Term Payment Plan

If you don’t qualify for the “undue hardship” 6-month extension, you can apply for what the IRS calls a Short-Term Payment Plan to pay your debt in full. In this case, you still are expected to have paid the full amount you owe within 6 months, but penalties and interest will apply throughout the whole period until you make the final payment. It would thus be in your best interest (no pun intended) to make regular payments during the 6 months to reduce the effect of the penalties and interest.

Installment Agreement

But if 6 months just looks like it won’t be enough time for you to take care of the whole amount, you can go through the process of applying for an installment agreement where you make monthly payments over time. There is a fee to set up an installment agreement, and interest and penalties will continue to be added to the balance of your debt. The IRS may also impose some conditions of its own. For example, if you have applied for a long-term payment plan for your tax debt of $25,000 or more, the IRS will want all monthly payments to be made automatically by direct debit. And if your debt is $50,000 or more, the IRS will want to get further information about your fiscal situation by asking you to fill out Form 433-F, Collection Information Statement.

Tax Expert Help

I hope you are enjoying that tea, and I also hope you can see that your tax situation is not all doom and gloom. You do have quite a few choices open to you to take care of that tax debt. But don’t just take my word for it – you can talk the whole thing over with one of TaxAudit’s tax experts who will help you understand the best way to go. There’s no cost or obligation on your part and, better yet, they won’t take your coffee away from you and make you drink decaf tea. And if you want, they’ll even represent you before the IRS to get you set up with a plan for getting that debt off your shoulders.

But as far as that caffeine addiction goes, you will have to face that on your own!

Do you owe money to the IRS or State?

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Steve Banner, EA, MBA
Tax Content Developer


Steve Banner began his career in the field of income tax in 1977 and has since gathered business experience in a variety of countries and cultures. In addition to the United States, he has lived and worked for extended periods in Australia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Sweden. Along the way he studied Adult Education and earned a Bachelor of Education, Master of Educational Administration, and MBA. He joined TaxAudit in 2016, where he is a Tax Content Developer.


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