The IRS has announced another expansion of its Fresh Start initiative by offering more flexible terms to its Offer-in-Compromise (OIC) program that will enable some of the most financially distressed taxpayers to clear up their tax problems, and in many cases, more quickly than in the past.
“This phase of Fresh Start will assist some taxpayers who have faced the most financial hardship in recent years,” said the IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “It is part of our multiyear effort to help taxpayers who are struggling to make ends meet.”
This latest announcement focuses on the financial analysis used to determine which taxpayers qualify for an OIC. The announcement also enables some taxpayers to resolve their tax problems in as little as two years, as compared to four or five years in the past.
In certain circumstances, the changes include:
-Revising the calculation for the taxpayer’s future income.
-Allowing taxpayers to repay their student loans.
-Allowing taxpayers to pay state and local delinquent taxes.
-Expanding the Allowable Living Expense allowance category and amount.
In general, an OIC is an agreement between the taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. An OIC is generally not accepted if the IRS believes the liability can be paid in full as a lump sum of through a payment agreement. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to make a determination of the taxpayer’s reasonable collection potential. OICs are subject to acceptance on legal requirements.
The IRS recognizes that many taxpayers are still struggling to pay their bills so the agency has been working to put in place common-sense changes to the OIC program to more closely reflect real-world situations.
When the IRS calculates a taxpayer’s reasonable collection potential, it will now look at only one year of future income for offers paid in five or fewer months, down from four years, and two years of future income offers paid in six to 24 months, down from five years. All the offers must be fully paid within 24 months of the date the offer is accepted. The Form 656-B, Offer in Compromise Booklet, and form 656, Offer in Compromise, has been revised to reflect the changes.
Other changes to the program include narrowed parameters and clarification of when a dissipated asset will be included in the calculation of reasonable collection potential. In addition, equality in income producing assets generally will not be included in the calculation of reasonable collection potential for on-going businesses.