Missed the tax deadline and can’t pay what is due? This can have disastrous consequences and must be taken care of quickly to avoid IRS tax debt. It can quickly ruin your life for as long as you let it.
These types of problems do not only happen to you so do not feel alone. Generally, taxpayers who miss the tax deadline date either ran out of time or did not have the money to pay the tax owed. The worst thing you can do is to do nothing. Below are three ways you can avoid or reduce a costly tax bill:
1. Missed the tax deadline and can’t pay?: Be sure to file your tax return even if you owe
“I will owe on my tax return and don’t have the money to pay, so there is no point in filing.” Sadly, many non-filers have these thoughts, but their thinking is completely wrong. It is best to always file on time or get an extension, even if you will owe the IRS. The IRS assesses penalties for non-filers (called the failure to file penalty). This is 5% of the amount of unpaid taxes each month, up to a maximum of 25%. In some cases, the late filing penalty can be higher than the late payment penalty so be sure to file as soon as possible if you have missed the deadline.
If this is your first failure to timely file penalty, be sure to request a penalty abatement from the IRS after you have filed. Don’t’ do it again as they will not be so forgiving the next time.
Luckily there is no late filing penalty for taxpayers that are due a refund. Taxpayers due a refund for the 2016 tax year have until April 18, 2020 (October 16, 2020 with an extension) to file before the statute of limitations on the refund runs out. Unfortunately, the U.S. Treasury keeps your refund if you do not file by these dates.
2. Pay as much as you can or pay it all off
If possible, pay your tax debt in full or pay what you can to reduce IRS tax debt. The failure to pay penalty is 0.5% of the amount you owe each month up to a maximum of 25%. If both the failure to file penalty (discussed above) and failure to pay penalty are due in the same month, the failure to file penalty is reduced to 0.5%.
You will have an extra six months to file if you were granted an extension. Make sure to estimate and pay what you think you owe for the year by the April deadline or as soon as you can. As mentioned above, the IRS will assess a failure to pay penalty equal to 5% of the tax you owe per month, up to a maximum of 25%.
And remember the IRS charges interest on the principal amount owed. The IRS charges interest at 3% plus the federal short-term rate, compounded each day (see also Rev. Rul 2017-6 Determination of Rate of Interest). This can add up to an enormous tax bill making it increasingly difficult to pay it all off.
Another concern to be aware is that if you never pay, you may be assigned to an IRS revenue officer. A revenue officer can show up at your house to investigate what assets and income you may have to pay off IRS tax debt. They are very aggressive and have been given broad collection powers. And of course, the worst-case scenario is that you can be charged with a crime, such as tax evasion.
To make matters worse, your travel plans may be cancelled. In late 2015, Congress passed a law that allows the U.S. State Department to revoke taxpayers’ passports or deny passports to those who owe more than $50,000 to the IRS and are not in an agreement to pay.
Do not miss the tax return deadline. The best thing you can do is avoid late filing next time or file an extension…and pay off your IRS tax debt quickly. To make a payment go to the IRS website at IRS.gov and choose an electronic payment option.
3. Enter into an IRS installment agreement (“IA”) to avoid IRS tax problems
If you missed the tax deadline and can’t pay in full, apply for an IRS installment agreement online or attach IRS Form 9465 Installment Agreement Request to the front of your tax return. In order to qualify and apply online, you must owe $50,000 or less, which includes all interest and penalties. Check out IA specific instructions when filling out and applying for an installment agreement.
And remember, to stay in an installment agreement and avoid a default, you must:
• Understand all future tax refunds will be applied to your tax debt until it is paid in full;
• Pay at least the minimum monthly payment when it is due;
• Include your name, address, SSN, daytime phone number, tax year and return type (generally 1040) on your payment;
• File all required tax returns on time and pay all taxes in-full and on time (contact the IRS to change your existing agreement if you cannot);
• Make all scheduled payments; and
• Ensure your statement is sent to the correct address. Contact the IRS if you move or complete and mail Form 8822, Change of Address.
If you owe more than $50,000 or cannot pay an adequate amount under an installment agreement, consider getting help from a tax attorney specializing in IRS tax debt resolution and strategy. If you missed the tax deadline and can’t pay, a skilled attorney will review your financial situation and strategize to assist you in resolving your IRS tax problems.
The Los Angeles Tax Attorneys at Delia Law have many years of tax resolution experience and will competently represent you before the IRS. Please call for a no-cost tax attorney consultation at (310) 494-01011. We look forward to helping you.
This blog post is not intended as legal advice and should be considered general information only.