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Past-due returns, part 2: steps you can take to resolve tax debt

In the first part of this post, we began discussing the issue of past-due tax returns. As we noted, there are several actions the IRS can take against you when you don’t file. These include filing a substitute return and initiating collection proceedings.

In this part of the post, we will discuss the role a tax attorney can play in helping you address issues of past-due taxes.


One way a lawyer can help resolve your tax debt is by working out a payment plan with the IRS. An installment agreement allows you to pay your back taxes over a period of time, in regular amounts that you can afford.

The specific requirements for an installment agreement depend on how much tax debt you owe. If the amount is less than $25,000, negotiating a payment plan that extends over a few years may be quite feasible.

If the amount is more than that, the cumulative effect of ever-accruing penalties and interest becomes more challenging. But it therefore becomes even more important to have an attorney to negotiate with the IRS for you. Please see our page on negotiating a payment plan for more information.

Negotiating is also a normal part of the process for getting the IRS to agree to accept an offer in compromise (OIC). Unlike an installment agreement, an OIC involves resolving your tax debt for less than the amount you originally owed.

In recent months, the OIC acceptance rate has been going up. We noted this most recently in our August 14 post. The process for applying for an OIC still contains plenty of hoops and hurdles. But an experienced tax attorney can help you assess your situation and find a way forward.

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