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IRS: What happens if I can’t pay my taxes in time?

If you won’t be able to pay on time consider hiring a tax professional.

IRS tax forms

However, there are some other options.

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Monthly payment plan

Each person’s tax situation is unique. That means there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Here are some options if you won’t be able to pay on time. You could also consider meeting with a tax professional. Read more about it here.

If you’re behind on money right now but know that you can catch up , monthly payments might be the best option. You can fill out an online payment agreement application on the IRS website.

You can also mail in your taxes with Form 9465, which is for taxpayers who want to pay their taxes in monthly payments. If you owe $50,000 or less in total with tax, penalties, and interest, the IRS will give you 72 months to pay your tax bill. You won’t be granted an IRS installment plan unless you’ve filed all previous taxes.

Request a compromise offer

You can make an offer to the IRS for an amount you can pay. If they accept it, that’s what you’ll pay. If paying the full amount would put you in a financial hardship, this may be a good option. In order to accept a compromise offer, the IRS takes into account:

  • ability to pay
  • income
  • expenses
  • asset equity

If the amount offered represents the most they can to expect collect within a reasonable timeframe, it will usually be accepted.

Consider looking into other payment options before submitting a compromise offer. It is a $205 application fee. However, you may be able to get it waived if you meet the low-income certification requirements.


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Make a partial payment or file and don’t pay

Failure to file on time has a different penalty than failure to pay. Failure to file is more serious than failure to pay. Failing to file will lead to a 5% increase each month until it maxes out at 25%. Failure to pay is only 0.5% a month.

Will I be sent to jail if I don’t pay?

Being sent to jail for not paying your taxes is unlikely. However, you could face serious consequences for tax fraud. If you don’t file your taxes for years you could end up in jail for tax evasion.


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