Tax debt can become a major source of stress. Wouldn't it be great to just make one payment and have all your tax debt disappear?
With an offer in compromise (OIC), that's actually possible. Whether you have major debt, are just getting started in your career, or are in another situation that has made it difficult for you to pay your tax liabilities, an OIC might be a great option to help you get back on track.
What is an OIC?
The IRS's website describes an OIC as an: "agreement between a taxpayer and the Internal Revenue Service that settles a taxpayer's tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed." Essentially, if an individual simply cannot pay their debt to the IRS, there is little chance of them being able to pay in the near future, and they don't own any significant property, they can offer the IRS a percentage of the money they owe, and if the IRS accepts, the individual's debt is settled.
However, taxpayers who can pay the liabilities through an installments or other means, generally won't qualify for an OIC. For an individual to qualify for an OIC, the taxpayer must have filed all past tax returns, made all required estimated tax payments for the current year, and made all required federal tax deposits for the current quarter if the taxpayer is a business owner with employees.
Who Qualifies for an OIC?
While this might sound like a very appealing way to resolve your debt, there are important stipulations to keep in mind. The IRS isn't going to accept any amount of money in exchange for waving your debt and generally won't accept an OIC unless the amount proposed is at least equal to the reasonable collection potential (RCP). The RCP is the combined value of the taxpayer's assets, such as real estate, automobiles, bank accounts, and other property. The RCP also includes anticipated future income.
Additionally, there are three reasons that the IRS would accept an OIC.
- Doubt as to liability. This is when there is a credible reason to believe that an individual's tax debt does not actually exist or is not as high as the IRS believes.
- Doubt as to collectibility. This occurs when a taxpayer's income and combined assets don't add up to the full amount of the tax debt.
- Effective tax administration. This is when there's no doubt that the tax debt is owed and that the full amount can be collected, but that doing so would economically cripple the taxpayer irrevocably.
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- Tax Debt: 3 Steps to Resolve Your Debt With the IRS - NerdWallet ›
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When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.