What If You Can't Pay Your Taxes

"What if I owe taxes and can't pay?"

The vast majority of Americans get a tax refund from the IRS each spring, but what if you are one of those who ends up owing? 

The IRS encourages you to pay the full amount of your tax liability on time by imposing significant penalties and interest on late payments if you don’t. So if you are unable to pay the tax you owe, it is generally in your best interest to make other arrangements to obtain the funds for paying your taxes rather than be subjected to the government’s penalties and interest. Here are a few options to consider. Although they all have negative connotations, they are all better than the penalties and interest the IRS could impose, not to mention the time and headache of dealing with IRS communications and the possibility of wage, bank account and asset levies.   

  • Asking Family for a Loan  Obtaining a loan from a relative or friend may be the best bet because this type of loan is generally the least costly in terms of interest.
  • Can You Use a Credit Card To Pay Taxes?   Yes. Another option is to pay by credit card with one of the service providers that works with the IRS. However, since the IRS will not pay the credit card discount fee, you will have to pay it and pay the higher credit card interest rates.
  • Can You Pay Your Taxes In Installments? Yes. If you owe the IRS $50,000 or less, you may qualify for a streamlined installment agreement where you can make monthly payments for up to six years. You will still be subject to the late payment penalty, but it will be reduced by half. Interest will also be charged at the current rate, and there is a user fee to set up the payment plan. In making the agreement, you will have to agree to keep all future years’ tax obligations current. If you don’t make your payments on time or have an outstanding past due amount in a future year, you will be in default of the agreement and the IRS has the option of taking enforcement actions to collect the entire amount owed. If you will be seeking an installment agreement exceeding $50,000, you will need to validate your financial condition and the need for an installment agreement by providing the IRS with a Collection Information Statement (financial statements). You may also pay down the balance due to $50,000 or less to take advantage of the streamlined option.
  • Retirement Account Withdrawal This is possibly the worst option for obtaining funds to pay your taxes because you are jeopardizing your retirement and the distributions are generally taxable at your highest bracket, which adds more taxes to your existing problem. In addition, if you are under age 59½, the withdrawal is also subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty that compounds the problem even further. 

If you would like to discuss your options, please give us a call at 551-249-1040.

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