What are Your Options if You Can’t Pay Your Taxes?
With April comes spring and tax time.
In 2018, you'll need to file by April 17 or face fees. But don't sweat too much if you can't afford to pay all your taxes at once. The Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, is often willing to work with you to help you pay your taxes without being penalized. That said, it's best not to avoid filing or paying. This bill won't just go away, and you'll accrue more and more late fees and interest the longer you let it sit.
Option 1: Pay by credit card or get a personal loan
The IRS allows several types of payment for your taxes, including a credit card. This isn't the best solution overall. You're essentially trading debt for another type. But if your situation is that you are able to pay, but don't have all the funds right now, a credit card is probably your fastest solution. (Unless your tax amount is too much for your card, then you'll need to consider another option.)
Pay your taxes with your card, and then pay off as much of the balance as you can until you're paid again. You'll still accrue interest on your card, but this amount might be lower than what the IRS would charge if you failed to pay or entered into an installment plan. The same may go for a personal loan from your local bank.
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Option 2: Set up an installment plan
As long as you meet certain requirements, you can set up an installment plan with the IRS to pay over time. And depending on how much you owe, you can even apply without having to talk to a person. If your bill is less than $50,000 in individual income tax, penalties and interest, you can apply for an installment plan online. You can also apply with federal form 9465. If you owe more than $50,000, you'll have to talk to an IRS agent to find out your next steps.
You'll be charged associated fees for entering into a plan, but these will be less if you sign up online. And even less if you agree to direct debit each month. You have to file all your tax returns before you apply for an installment plan. You'll usually be notified within 30 days if you've been accepted.
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Option 3: Ask for additional time
Based on your particular circumstances, you might be granted additional time to pay in full. You can make a request like this online, by calling, or by talking with an IRS agent in person. If you're insolvent or unable to pay due to circumstances beyond your control (like unemployment or disability), the IRS is willing to work with you on your payments. You might be eligible for an officer in compromise, which will let you pay less than the actual amount you owe. These options are completely dependent on your unique situation and you'll be able to determine your next steps by communicating with the IRS.
Taxes are never fun, but they don't have to be a financial strain. The IRS has several payment and financing options if you're unable to pay in full by April 17. In extreme situations, you can talk to an IRS agent about reducing the amount you owe or setting up a payment plan. The key is: don't let your taxes sit. If you fail to file by the deadline, your interest and late fee penalties will be more than if you do file and request a different financing option.