The IRS has a little-known provision for people who can’t pay their tax bills in full

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The IRS has a little-known provision for people who can’t pay their tax bills in full
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With tax season ongoing, many people are in the midst of getting their financial houses in order. That may include compiling documents to do your taxes yourself or even hiring a tax preparer.

In either scenario, one of the many shocks that taxpayers encounter around this time of year is when they learn that they owe the Internal Revenue Service. What could be even more disheartening is when you don’t have the money to pay your tax bill.

But take heart: We’ve told you how to pay your bill if you owe the IRS money. But what we haven’t really discussed is a little-known provision the agency makes available to people in dire financial straits.

Can’t pay your tax bill? Check out this little-known IRS provision

The IRS promises to work with taxpayers who may not be able to pay their tax bill in full. Instead of setting the terms yourself, you’re going to have to apply for an online payment agreement to work out how to wipe out your debt in installments.

The agency typically will accept a short- (120 days or less) or long-term (more than 120 days) payment plan. But often, other deals can be worked out based on your particular financial circumstances.

If you simply don’t have the money and it looks like you never will, you can apply for an “offer in compromise,” which allows the IRS to settle for less than the full amount you owe.

Use this Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool to see if you are eligible for an offer in compromise.

Don’t be duped by phony IRS websites

If you decide to pay online, make sure you go to the right website. The IRS frequently warns of scammers who set up fake sites looking to dupe some unsuspecting taxpayers into giving them untold amounts of money online.

The IRS says this about imposter websites: “The address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov. Don’t be misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov.”

RELATED: Free federal state & tax filing options for 2018

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer. You can reach Craig at [email protected]
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