How to Work With the IRS on Overdue Taxes

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If your tax payments are overdue, you can work directly with the IRS to resolve your situation without paying attorney or other fees. You'll need all of your records from previous years and your current income records.

  • Call the IRS as soon as you get the first overdue notice. Plan on being on hold for 10 to 30 minutes, or maybe more. When you do get through, be honest, polite and friendly. Most of the time you'll get someone on the phone who is nice. Be sure to write down this person's name and number. The IRS representative will give that information when he picks up the phone. Do not hesitate to ask him to repeat it if needed.

  • Ask questions. Find out exactly how long you have to resolve the situation, what your options are and what the IRS is willing to do to help you. Every time you call the IRS, ask these same questions. If you get a different answer, say, "The last person I spoke with, [mention that person's name and number], told me this. It was on this date. Do you have a record of that?"

  • Take the IRS's timeline seriously, once you've been told what steps to take and when. If the representative tells you you have 31 days, calendar it for 30 days. Do not ever cross the line!

  • Fill out all of the required paperwork. If the amount it says you have to pay is much higher than what you can afford, explain that when you call. Say that you really can't afford it, and why. Then say when you will be able to afford it.

  • Follow the instructions you are given and make your payments on time. Once you've set up a plan with the IRS, follow through. If you miss even one payment, the IRS will come after you.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't screw around with the IRS. If you didn't pay your taxes, it's your fault—not the government's. Deal with it.
  • Don't believe the commercials that tell you they can save you so much money you will pay only pennies on the dollar. Ever. The IRS rules are very clear and very exact. No matter what those people tell you on the ads, they cannot make a miracle.

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