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Do You Qualify for IRS Debt Forgiveness?

Are you worried about the federal back taxes you might owe? Does the prospect of paying them seem insurmountable? Rather than spending any more time worrying, read below to see if you might be a candidate for reducing debt through an IRS hardship program.

Are You Eligible?

Are you weighed down by the prospect of a large federal tax bill that your business or other personal circumstances have made all but impossible to repay? If so, you may be eligible for IRS debt forgiveness that could reduce the amount you owe. The IRS has an Offer in Compromise (OIC) program that could give you the option to settle your tax debt for less than the total amount owed. The IRS can approve your Offer in Compromise if the amount offered represents the most they can expect to collect within a reasonable period or if repayment would mean hardship. 

The IRS allows you to petition for Hardship Status or "Currently Not Collectible" status if it's challenging to meet your tax obligations or if you can't make payments due to an ongoing financial situation. The IRS will review your financial situation to determine if the "collection of the liability would create a hardship for taxpayers by leaving them unable to meet necessary living expenses."

What Defines "Hardship?"

So, how does the IRS determine if your situation truly represents a hardship? It requires a case-by-case review. You must submit financial information as part of your Offer in Compromise to allow the IRS to assess your particular situation. Be prepared to submit a list of everything you own, along with estimates of its corresponding market value. This includes bank accounts, investment portfolios, retirement savings, cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, real estate properties, life insurance, etc. You must also submit income and spending statements for the prior three months and report a three-month average of income and expenses based on IRS categories. Your spouse may have to do the same.

Before You Apply for IRS Debt Forgiveness

There are some prerequisites to know about before considering applying for debt forgiveness:

  • You can't be in open bankruptcy proceedings, 
  • You must have filed all your federal tax returns, 
  • You must have paid all your estimated taxes, and 
  • If you are self-employed or have employees, you must have submitted all your federal trust fund, payroll, and other federal deposit taxes. 

Here is a helpful link to an IRS prequalifying tool to see if you meet the basic requirements to submit an Offer in Compromise requesting debt forgiveness. Before spending the time and effort to prepare and submit an offer, it is best to use the pre-qualifier tool to see if it's a viable option. 

Additionally, keep in mind that conditions apply in most (but not all) cases. These include:

  • Your annual income must be less than $84,000 per year,
  • You would have little or no funds left over after paying your basic living expenses,
  • Your living expenses must fall within IRS guidelines. These IRS guidelines include four categories of allowable living expenses, called "collection financial standards,":
    • food, clothing, housekeeping supplies, personal care products, and 
    • miscellaneous items,
    • out-of-pocket health care expenses,
    • housing and utilities.

Consult a Tax Resolution Professional 

Consulting a professional about your situation is particularly useful if you are experiencing exceptional circumstances in which paying the amount owed in full might impair your ability to provide for yourself and your family. 

A professional can help guide you in completing the correct IRS forms accurately so that all your allowable expenses are fully reflected in your proposal. They can also serve as your representative in negotiating with the IRS and trusted advisor throughout the process to ensure that you are taking advantage of all the relief available to you. Doing so can make all the difference in lessening your tax burden, reducing stress and anxiety, and resolving a challenging situation quickly and smoothly.


If you are concerned about your tax obligations, don't ignore the situation or spend time worrying about it. You don't want to allow interest or penalties to accrue needlessly. Instead, consult the tax professionals at Myrick CPA to find out what your options are. You may find that you have more options for quickly and advantageously resolving the situation than you realize.

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