Surprise! Your Chances of Paying The IRS Less is Better Than Ever!
By Steven A Leahy
On the IRS Radio Hour (heard every Sunday evening at 5:00 on AM 560 The Answer) I often talk about the six things you can do if you owe the IRS. First, you can pay the IRS everything you owe them. Second, you can set up an installment agreement with the IRS. Pay them over time. Third, you can submit an Offer-in-Compromise, to pay a lump sum to settle the debt. Fourth, you can be declared currently not collectible – prove to the IRS you don’t have any disposable income after you pay all your monthly bills. Fifth, you can file for protection under one of the Chapters of the Bankruptcy laws. And, finally, you can continue to do nothing and let the IRS have their way with you.
The third option, and often the most attractive, is an Offer-in-Compromise (OIC). An OIC is an agreement with the IRS to pay a lump sum as a settlement for the entire IRS debt. Often on radio and television ads, this is the option they refer to when they promise you can pay the IRS “pennies on the dollar.” This promise led to the demise of many national tax resolution companies, because they would charge a client for an OIC, knowing the offer would be rejected. Then charge again for the real remedy.
Historically, the OIC was a bad option because only a small percentage of offers were accepted. For example in 2003 only 17% were approved. In 2014, nearly 40% were accepted! What happened? Why did the acceptance rate more than double in 11 years? What changed?
Well in 2011 the IRS put forth the “Fresh Start Initiative” which changed the OIC program. Before the Fresh Start Initiative the OIC program was limited to those few who had little to zero assets, and could prove they could never pay the IRS. The initiative gave the IRS more flexibility when calculating a taxpayer’s “reasonable collection potential.” The amount the IRS will accept for an Offer-in-Compromise depends on three major factors – the taxpayer’s monthly disposable income, the multiplier, and the taxpayer’s assets. The reasonable collection potential is calculated: (taxpayer’s monthly disposable income) x (the multiplier) + (value of assets).
Disposable income is the difference between a taxpayer’s income and their expenses. The IRS uses national standards when calculating expenses, not the taxpayer’s actual expenses. Historically, the IRS did not consider many of the taxpayer’s actual debts. Under the initiative, the IRS will now allow taxpayer’s to deduct student loan payments and monthly payments for state and local delinquent taxes. The national standards now also include a “miscellaneous” allowance. The miscellaneous allowance can be used for credit card payments and other debts that were previously not considered. The additional expenses will reduce the calculated monthly disposable income.
The biggest change concerns the multiplier used to calculate the amount the IRS will settle the debt. Once a taxpayer’s disposable income is calculated, the IRS uses the multiplier to calculate the cash component. If the taxpayer can pay the lump sum in five or fewer months, the IRS multiplier was 48 (4 years). Now, that multiplier is 12 (1 year). If the taxpayer can pay in 6 to 24 months, the multiplier was reduced to 24 (2years) from 60 (5 years). The decreased multipliers significantly reduce the reasonable collection potential calculated to settle an IRS obligation.
The asset calculation has also been reduced. The IRS will use 80% of the value of assets, overlook some dissipated assets and forego any equity in income producing assets in calculating the asset portion of the offer-in-compromise. All of these changes have the effect of lowering the calculated “reasonable collection potential.”
If you have an IRS problem and are looking to find a way out, maybe the Offer-in-Compromise will be your best option. Find out. Before you do anything, you should give me a call. We can discuss your all your options. Opem Tax Resolutions & The Law Office of Steven A. Leahy, PC (312) 664-6649. Call NOW to set up your FREE Consultation.