IRS Currently Not Collectible
By Steven A. Leahy
There are six things you can do if you owe the IRS money. First, you can simply write the IRS a check for the full amount. For many, that is simply not a realistic option. Often, if the tax obligation is not too significant, borrowing money from another source (friends, family, bank loan, credit cards, etc.) may be a less costly alternative than an installment agreement with the IRS. Second, you can enter into an Installment Agreement; pay the IRS over time. Third, you can obtain an Offer-in-Compromise: A lump sum settlement for less than the tax owed. Fourth, you can be declared Currently Not Collectible; pay the IRS nothing (for a period of time). Fifth, you can file for protection under the bankruptcy code; Chapter 7, Chapter 13 or Chapter 11. And the last option – you can do nothing, and let the IRS do what they will to you, your family and your assets.
This article addresses the fourth option – IRS Currently Not Collectible (CNC). The IRS lists a number of reasons to report an account CNC. The reasons include, inability to locate the taxpayer, expiration of the statutory recovery period (statute of limitations), death of an individual (where the IRS can’t collect from the estate), defunct companies without assets, or the taxpayer is out of the country or in a combat zone. The most common reason for CNC status is the existence of a taxpayer hardship.
The IRS may place a taxpayer in CNC status based on a hardship – when the IRS determines that the taxpayer can’t pay their tax obligation AND pay reasonable living expenses. The first requirement for a hardship CNC is compliance. In most cases, the taxpayer must have filed all 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. The taxpayer must remain in compliance during consideration and, should a hardship CNC be found, thereafter.
In order to demonstrate a hardship, a financial analysis, with detailed financial information, must be completed to determine the taxpayer’s assets and equity, income and expenses. The investigation into the taxpayer’s financial condition begins by completing Form 433–A, Collection Information Statement for Wage Earners and Self-Employed Individuals or Form 433–B, Collection Information Statement for Businesses, and providing all the necessary documents to substantiate the numbers.
The level of scrutiny depends on the tax obligation – the greater the tax bill, the greater the scrutiny. For example, if the unpaid tax balance is large, the IRS will review the taxpayer’s credit report, motor vehicle records and real estate records to determine if there are any additional sources for collection, in addition to the 433 and supporting documents. Generally, an IRS manager must review the IRS Currently Not Collectible recommendations paperwork and approve granting the CNC status.
Collection actions stop once a taxpayer’s account is placed in IRS Currently Not Collectible, including bank levies, wage garnishments and collection letters. The problem with CNC is that interest and penalties continue to accrue even though IRS collection activity has been suspended. In addition, if the balance is greater than $10,000.00, the IRS may still issue a Notice of Federal Tax Lien against the taxpayer (although the taxpayer can still appeal that action).
The good part about CNC is that the Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED) is not tolled while the taxpayer’s account in a hardship CNC status. It is possible for a taxpayer to continue in hardship CNC status until the CSED passes. Once the CSED passes, the IRS cannot collect on that IRS obligation. Hardship CNC cases, however, can be reactivated if it appears there is a change in the taxpayer’s ability to pay indicating collectibility. And, the IRS may ask the taxpayer to reestablish CNC hardship status periodically.
So, if you owe the IRS and are unable to pay the full tax obligation immediately, you may be eligible for your account to be placed in a Hardship CNC status. 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.