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Posted by Pat Raskob

IRS Offer in Compromise: A Path to Reducing Your Tax Debt

IRS Offer in Compromise: A Path to Reducing Your Tax Debt

Dealing with tax debt can be challenging and stressful for individuals and businesses. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers several programs and options to help taxpayers manage their tax liabilities. One such program is the IRS Offer in Compromise (OIC), which allows eligible taxpayers to settle their tax debts for less than the full amount owed. 

Understanding the IRS Offer in Compromise (OIC)

The IRS Offer in Compromise is a program that allows qualifying taxpayers to negotiate with the IRS to settle their tax debts for an amount less than what they owe. The primary goal of the OIC program is to help taxpayers who are facing financial hardship and cannot pay their tax debts in full. The IRS agrees to compromise and accept a reduced payment by accepting an offer.

Eligibility Criteria for the IRS Offer in Compromise

Not all taxpayers are eligible for the IRS Offer in Compromise program. The IRS carefully evaluates each application based on specific criteria. To be considered eligible for an OIC, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Tax Compliance: You must have filed all required tax returns.

  • Payment Compliance: If you are self-employed or have employees, you must have made all required estimated tax payments for the current year.

  • No Open Bankruptcy: If you have an open bankruptcy filing, you are generally not eligible for an OIC.

  • No Pending Offer in Compromise: If you have previously submitted an offer that is still pending, you cannot apply for a new one.

  • Demonstrated Financial Hardship: You must prove to the IRS that paying your tax debt in full would cause significant financial hardship.

Calculating the Offer Amount

When submitting an Offer in Compromise, you will propose an amount you are willing to pay to settle your tax debt. This amount should be based on your current financial situation and assets. The IRS uses a specific formula to determine a taxpayer's reasonable collection potential (RCP). The RCP considers your income, expenses, and the value of your assets.

To calculate your offer amount, the IRS typically considers two payment options:

  • Lump Sum Offer: This option requires you to pay 20% of the total offer amount upon acceptance, with the remaining balance paid in five or fewer installments within a few months.

  • Periodic Payment Offer: With this option, you propose to make monthly payments while the IRS considers your offer. The first payment is made upon application submission, and subsequent payments continue until the offer is accepted or until the statutory period for collection expires.

Tips to Reduce Your Tax Debt

While the IRS Offer in Compromise program can effectively reduce your tax debt, exploring additional strategies to manage and minimize your overall tax liability is crucial. Here are some practical tips to help you reduce your tax debt:

  1. File Your Tax Returns on Time: Filing your tax returns on time is essential to avoid penalties and interest charges. Even if you cannot pay the full amount owed, filing your return by the deadline is crucial to minimize penalties.

  2. Explore Installment Agreement Options: If you cannot fully pay your tax debt, you can set up an installment agreement with the IRS. This allows you to make monthly payments over time. By proactively arranging a payment plan, you can avoid the IRS taking collection actions against you.

  3. Seek Professional Help: Dealing with tax debt can be complex, and it is advisable to seek professional assistance from tax attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs), or enrolled agents. They can guide you through the process, help you explore all available options, and negotiate with the IRS on your behalf.

  4. Take Advantage of Available Deductions and Credits: Make sure you take advantage of all available tax deductions and credits to reduce your overall tax liability. Consult with a tax professional to identify potential deductions and credits that apply to your situation.

  5. Request Penalty Abatement: In certain cases, the IRS may grant penalty abatement if you can demonstrate reasonable cause for not paying your tax debt on time. Examples of reasonable cause may include serious illness, natural disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances.


Facing tax debt can be overwhelming, but it's important to remember that there are options available to help you manage and reduce your tax liability. The IRS Offer in Compromise program provides a valuable opportunity for eligible taxpayers to settle their debts for less than the full amount owed. By understanding the program's eligibility criteria, calculating the offer amount, and exploring additional strategies to minimize your tax debt, you can take control of your financial situation and work towards a fresh start. Consider seeking professional assistance to navigate the complexities of tax debt and ensure the best possible outcome for your circumstances.



Pat Raskob
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