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Wednesday
Mar222017

10 Ways to Settle Your IRS Tax Debts For Less Than What You Owe

Do you Find dealing with the IRS frustrating, Intimidating and Time-consuming. You’re not alone.

While taxpayers may always represent themselves in front of the IRS, many turn to professional tax help (specialized IRS tax attorneys, CPAs, and Certified Tax Resolution Specialists) in order to maximize their chances of winning a tax settlement while minimizing their contact with the IRS agents. Owing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) money is intimidating to most people. The IRS has the power to garnish your wages, seize your assets and place a lien on your property in order to obtain the money that you owe them. However, these actions can be prevented by communicating promptly with the IRS about your situation. The IRS is usually willing to work with taxpayers, and there are several options available so that you may resolve your debt issues.

As a creditor, the Internal Revenue Service carries the weight of the federal government behind it. In addition to having extensive methods to collect on outstanding tax debt, the IRS also can be extremely patient. As long as the IRS knows it is going to get paid someday, it can wait until you are in a better financial position to pay. Of course, the longer you take to pay your tax debt, the more you will owe.


10 Ways to Settle Your IRS Tax Debt

 

1. Installment Agreement

A monthly payment plan for paying off the IRS. If you think you are a victim of a fraudulent investment scheme (“Ponzi” Scheme), where you have lost all or most of your investment, you may be eligible to take advantage the United States Tax Code (law) to recoup 30% to 40% of your losses. This highly technical and complex process can help you reduce taxes paid in previous years resulting in refund with interest.
 
2. Partial Payment Installment Agreement

 A fairly new debt management program where you have a long term payment plan to pay off the IRS at a reduced dollar amount.Much like a monthly credit card payment, IRS payment plans allow you to pay off your unpaid back taxes in installments instead of all at once. A well-qualified tax attorneyor Certified Tax Resolution Specialist will negotiate the lowest possible monthly payment for your needs.

3. Offer in Compromise

A program where you can settle your tax debts for less than what you owe. Requires making a lump sum or short term payment plan to pay off the IRS at a reduced dollar amount.If you owe the IRS more than you can afford to pay, this could be the plan for you. Essentially, an Offer in Compromise gives you the opportunity to pay a small amount as a full and final payment. If you qualify for the Offer in Compromise program, you can save thousands of dollars in taxes, penalties and interest.

4. Not currently collectible

A program where the IRS voluntarily agrees not to collect on the tax debt for a year or so. Currently Not Collectible means that a taxpayer has no ability to pay his or her tax debts. The IRS can declare a taxpayer “currently not collectible,” after the IRS receives evidence that a taxpayer has no ability to pay. This is a useful tool because you can file for a collection appeal to stop an IRS levy, lien, seizure or the denial or termination of an installment agreement. The collection appeal gives you the opportunity to explain how you think the situation could be solved without the IRS levy or seizure.

5. Lower Your Debt With Credit Card Debt Settlement

There are two methods of credir card debt consolidation: through a credit card debt settlement company or on your own. Credit card debt settlement companies should be avoided. They collect your payments for months before making a settlement offer – if they make an offer at all. Meanwhile, you continue receiving collection calls and negative payment marks on your credit report. You’ll get better and faster results settling debts on your own.Final credit card debt settlement agreements should be in writing. Either draft an agreement of your own or have your credit card company send you an agreement. Make sure you and someone from your credit card company have both signed the agreement before you send payment.

 6. File Bankruptcy

Income tax debts may be eligible for discharge under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Filing for bankruptcy is one of five ways to Tax Debt Relief, but you should consider bankruptcy only if you meet the requirements for discharging your taxes. Chapter 7 provides for full discharge of allowable debts. Chapter 13 provides a payment plan to repay some debts, with the remainder of debts discharged.

 There’s no “secret sauce” in paying off tax debts. These are the only five ways of getting out from under the IRS’ aggressive debt collection tactics. If a tax pro promises you that you can save “pennies on the dollar” through an offer in compromise, that person is probably more interested in selling you something you don’t need instead of focusing on your unique financial situation and determining what the best course of action is for you. 

 7. Release Wage Garnishments

When you owe Uncle Sam money, the IRS can levy your wages, salary, or federal payments until the levy is released, your tax debt has been fully paid off, or the time expires for legally collecting the tax. There’s room here to bargain for a release or modification to the garnishment if you don’t have enough money to survive with the levy.
 

8. Stop the IRS from Levying Your Bank Account

The IRS can issue a bank levy to take your cash in savings and checking accounts to collect back taxes. When the IRS levies a bank account, the bank is required to remove whatever amount is available in your account that day (up to the amount of the IRS levy) and send it to the IRS in 21 days unless notified otherwise by the IRS. Part of the process of resolving your IRS debt is obtain a release of the levy from the IRS.

9. Innocent Spouse Relief

If you happen to inherit your spouse’s IRS tax problems, you have an escape route. If you can prove that your circumstances fit within the IRS guidelines for innocent spouse tax relief, you may not be subject to the taxes caused by your spouse or ex-spouse.

 10. Pay Attention to the Expiration of the Statue of Limitations

The IRS has 10 years from the date of assessment (usually close to the filing date) to collect all taxes, penalties and interest from you. An expert tax attorney, tax CPA or tax resolution specialist can help resolve your back taxes and IRS problems by just by advising and strategizing with you to wait out the 10 year expiration date.  This is a useful tool because you can file for a collection appeal to stop an IRS levy, lien, seizure or the denial or termination of an installment agreement. The collection appeal gives you the opportunity to explain how you think the situation could be solved without the IRS levy or seizure.
Wednesday
Feb082017

In 2017, Some Tax Benefits Increase Slightly Due to Inflation Adjustments, Others Are Unchanged

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced the tax year 2017  annual inflation adjustments for more than 50 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules, and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2016-55 provides details about these annual adjustments. The tax year 2017 adjustments generally are used on tax returns filed in 2018.

The tax items for tax year 2017 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts:

  • The standard deduction for married filing jointly rises to $12,700 for tax year 2017, up $100 from the prior year. For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction rises to $6,350 in 2017, up from $6,300 in 2016, and for heads of households, the standard deduction will be $9,350 for tax year 2017, up from $9,300 for tax year 2016.
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2017 remains as it was for 2016: $4,050.  However, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $261,500 ($313,800 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $384,000 ($436,300 for married couples filing jointly.)
  • For tax year 2017, the 39.6 percent tax rate affects single taxpayers whose income exceeds $418,400 ($470,700 for married taxpayers filing jointly), up from $415,050 and $466,950, respectively. The other marginal rates – 10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent – and the related income tax thresholds for tax year 2017 are described in the revenue procedure.
  • The limitation for itemized deductions to be claimed on tax year 2017 returns of individuals begins with incomes of $287,650 or more ($313,800 for married couples filing jointly).
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2017 is $54,300 and begins to phase out at $120,700 ($84,500, for married couples filing jointly for whom the exemption begins to phase out at $160,900). The 2016 exemption amount was $53,900 ($83,800 for married couples filing jointly).  For tax year 2017, the 28 percent tax rate applies to taxpayers with taxable incomes above $187,800 ($93,900 for married individuals filing separately).
  • The tax year 2017 maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,318 for taxpayers filing jointly who have 3 or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,269 for tax year 2016. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phase-outs.
  • For tax year 2017, the monthly limitation for the qualified transportation fringe benefit is $255, as is the monthly limitation for qualified parking,
  • For calendar year 2017, the dollar amount used to determine the penalty for not maintaining minimum essential health coverage is $695.
  • For tax year 2017 participants who have self-only coverage in a Medical Savings Account, the plan must have an annual deductible that is not less than $2,250 but not more than $3,350; these amounts remain unchanged from 2016. For self-only coverage the maximum out of pocket expense amount  is $4,500, up $50 from 2016. For tax year 2017 participants with family coverage, the floor for the annual deductible is $4,500, up from $4,450 in 2016, however the deductible cannot be more than $6,750, up $50 from the limit for tax year 2016. For family coverage, the out of pocket expense limit is $8,250 for tax year 2017, an increase of $100 from  tax year 2016.
  • For tax year 2017, the adjusted gross income amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning Credit is $112,000, up from $111,000 for tax year 2016.
  • For tax year 2017, the foreign earned income exclusion is $102,100, up from $101,300 for tax year 2016.
  • Estates of decedents who die during 2017 have a basic exclusion amount of $5,490,000, up from a total of $5,450,000 for estates of decedents who died in 2016.
Wednesday
Dec072016

IRS Reminds Taxpayers of Refund Delays in 2017

WASHINGTON — As the holidays approach, the Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers to remember that a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds until mid-February in 2017 for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. In addition, new identity theft and refund fraud safeguards put in place by the IRS and the states may mean some tax returns and refunds face additional review.

Some Refunds Delayed in 2017

Beginning in 2017, a new law approved by Congress requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the EITC or the ACTC until mid-February. The IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC — until at least Feb. 15. This change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the agency more time to help detect and prevent fraud.

''This is an important change as some of these taxpayers are used to getting an early refund," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "We want people to be aware of the change for their planning purposes during the holidays. We don't want anyone caught by surprise if they get their refund a few weeks later than in previous years."

As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins. All taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should submit returns as they normally do. Even though the IRS cannot issue refunds for some early filers until at least Feb. 15, the IRS reminds taxpayers that most refunds will be issued within the normal timeframe: less than 21 days, after being accepted for processing by the IRS. The Where's My Refund? tool on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone app remains the best way to get this status of a refund.

Stronger Security Filters and Tax Refund Processing

As the IRS steps up its efforts to combat identity theft and tax refund fraud through its many processing filters, legitimate refund returns sometimes get delayed during the review process. While the IRS is working diligently to stop the issuance of fraudulent refunds, it also remains focused on releasing legitimate refunds as quickly as possible. 

Recently, the Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and industry partners finalized plans for 2017 to improve identity theft protections for individual and business taxpayers. This comes after making significant inroads this year against fraudulent returns. Additional safeguards will be set in place for the upcoming 2017 filing season.

The IRS and its partners saw a marked improvement in the battle against identity theft in 2016. This is highlighted by the number of new people reporting stolen identities on federal tax returns falling by more than 50 percent, with nearly 275,000 fewer victims compared to a year ago.

"These increased security screenings are invisible to most taxpayers," Koskinen said. "But we want people to be aware we are taking additional steps to protect taxpayers from identity theft, and that sometimes means the real taxpayers face a slight delay in their refunds.”

Monday
Dec142015

Year End Tax Strategies

10 year-end tax strategies

  • Bunch your deductible expenses.
  • Add to or open an IRA.
  • Be generous to charities.
  • Pay college costs early.
  • Check health insurance.
  • Defer your income.
  • Add to your 401(k).
  • Review your FSA amounts.
  • Harvest tax losses.
  • Make the most of your home.


Monday
Sep282015

Tax-filing Extension Expires Oct. 15 for Millions of Taxpayers; Check Eligibility for Overlooked Tax Benefits

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers whose tax-filing extension runs out on Oct. 15 to double check their returns for often-overlooked tax benefits and then file their returns electronically using IRS e-file or the Free File system.

About a quarter of the 13 million taxpayers who requested an automatic six-month extension this year have yet to file. Although Oct. 15 is the last day for most people, some still have more time, including members of the military and others serving in combat zone localities who typically have until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to both file returns and pay any taxes due.

“If you still need to file, don’t forget that you can still file electronically through October 15,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Many people may not realize they may be eligible to use Free File available on IRS.gov/freefile. Free File is free tax software that takes the guesswork out of return preparation. Even if you’re filing in the final days, filing electronically remains easy, safe and the most accurate way to file your taxes.”

Check Out Tax Benefits

Before filing, the IRS encourages taxpayers to take a moment to see if they qualify for these and other often-overlooked credits and deductions:

  • Benefits for low-and moderate-income workers and families, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit. The special EITC Assistant can help taxpayers see if they’re eligible.
  • Savers credit, claimed on Form 8880, for low-and moderate-income workers who contributed to a retirement plan, such as an IRA or 401(k).
  • American Opportunity Tax Credit, claimed on Form 8863, and other education tax benefits for parents and college students.

Health Care Tax Reporting
While most taxpayers will simply need to check a box on their tax return to indicate they had health coverage for all of 2014, there are also new lines on Forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ related to the health care law. Visit IRS.gov/aca for details on how the Affordable Care Act affects the 2014 return. This includes:

  • Reporting health insurance coverage.
  • Claiming an exemption from the coverage requirement.
  • Making an individual shared responsibility payment.
  • Claiming the premium tax credit.
  • Reconciling advance payments of the premium tax credit. Properly doing so can help maintain continued eligibility for premium assistance in 2016. 

The Interactive Tax Assistant tool can also help determine if a taxpayer qualifies for an exemption, needs to make a payment or is eligible for the premium tax credit. 

Taxpayers who intend to claim the Health Coverage Tax Credit for 2014 must first file an original 2014 tax return without claiming the HCTC, even if they have no other filing requirement . They can then file an amended return when the IRS issues further HCTC guidance. Visit irs.gov/hctc for updates.

E-file Now: It’s Fast, Easy and Often Free
The IRS urges taxpayers to choose the speed and convenience of electronic filing. Fast, accurate and secure, filing electronically is an ideal option for those rushing to meet the Oct. 15 deadline. The IRS verifies receipt of an e-filed return, and people who file electronically make fewer mistakes too. Of the nearly 144 million returns received by the IRS so far this year, about 86 percent or over 124 million have been e-filed.

Taxpayers who purchase their own software can also choose to e-file, and most paid tax preparers are now required to file their clients’ returns electronically.

Everyone can use Free File, either the brand-name software, offered by the IRS’s commercial partners to individuals and families with incomes of $60,000 or less, or online fillable forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms available to taxpayers at all income levels.

Join the eight in 10 taxpayers who get their refunds faster by using direct deposit and e-file. Taxpayers can choose to have their refunds deposited into as many as three accounts. See Form 8888 for details.

Quick and Easy Payment Options
The IRS Direct Pay system offers taxpayers the fastest and easiest way to pay what they owe. Available through the Pay Your Tax Bill  icon on IRS.gov, this free online system allows individuals to securely pay their tax bills or make quarterly estimated tax payments directly from checking or savings accounts without any fees or pre-registration. So far this year, more than 4.1 million tax payments totaling over $15 billion have been received from individual taxpayers through Direct Pay.

Taxpayers can also pay by debit or credit card. While the IRS does not charge a fee for this service, the payment processer will. Other e-pay options include the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (pre-registration is required) and Electronic Funds Withdrawal which is available when e-Filing. Taxpayers can even e-pay what they owe using, IRS2Go , the agency’s popular mobile phone app. All of the electronic payment options are quick, easy and secure and much faster than mailing in a check or money order. Those choosing to pay by check or money order should make the payment out to the “United States Treasury.”

Taxpayers with extensions should file their returns by Oct. 15, even if they can’t pay the full amount due. By doing so, taxpayers will avoid the late-filing penalty, normally five percent per month, that would otherwise apply to any unpaid balance after Oct. 15. However, interest, currently at the rate of 3 percent per year compounded daily, and late-payment penalties, normally 0.5 percent per month, will continue to accrue.

Fresh Start for Struggling Taxpayers
In many cases, those struggling to pay taxes qualify for one of several relief programs. Most people can set up a payment agreement with the IRS on line in a matter of minutes. Those who owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest can use the Online Payment Agreement to set up a monthly payment agreement for up to 72 months or request a short-term payment plan. Taxpayers can choose this option even if they have not yet received a bill or notice from the IRS.

Taxpayers can also request a payment agreement by filing Form 9465. This form can be downloaded from IRS.gov and mailed along with a tax return, bill or notice.

Alternatively, some struggling taxpayers qualify for an Offer-in-Compromise. This is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. Generally, an offer will not be accepted if the IRS believes the liability can be paid in full as a lump sum or through a payment agreement. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to make a determination regarding the taxpayer’s ability to pay. To help determine eligibility, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier, a free online tool available on IRS.gov.


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