IRS Fresh Start Program Helps Taxpayers Who Owe the IRS

The IRS Fresh Start program makes it easier for taxpayers to pay back taxes and avoid tax liens. Even small business taxpayers may benefit from Fresh Start. Here are three important features of the Fresh Start program:

  • Tax Liens.  The Fresh Start program increased the amount that taxpayers can owe before the IRS generally will file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. That amount is now $10,000. However, in some cases, the IRS may still file a lien notice on amounts less than $10,000.When a taxpayer meets certain requirements and pays off their tax debt, the IRS may now withdraw a filed Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Taxpayers must request this in writing using Form 12277, Application for Withdrawal.

    Some taxpayers may qualify to have their lien notice withdrawn if they are paying their tax debt through a Direct Debit installment agreement. Taxpayers also need to request this in writing by using Form 12277.

    If a taxpayer defaults on the Direct Debit Installment Agreement, the IRS may file a new Notice of Federal Tax Lien and resume collection actions.

  • Installment Agreements.  The Fresh Start program expanded access to streamlined installment agreements. Now, individual taxpayers who owe up to $50,000 can pay through monthly direct debit payments for up to 72 months (six years). While the IRS generally will not need a financial statement, they may need some financial information from the taxpayer. The easiest way to apply for a payment plan is to use the Online Payment Agreement tool at IRS.gov. If you don’t have Web access you may file Form 9465, Installment Agreement, to apply.Taxpayers in need of installment agreements for tax debts more than $50,000 or longer than six years still need to provide the IRS with a financial statement. In these cases, the IRS may ask for one of two forms: either Collection Information Statement, Form 433-A or Form 433-F.
  • Offers in Compromise.  An Offer in Compromise is an agreement that allows taxpayers to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount. Fresh Start expanded and streamlined the OIC program. The IRS now has more flexibility when analyzing a taxpayer’s ability to pay. This makes the offer program available to a larger group of taxpayers.Generally, the IRS will accept an offer if it represents the most the agency can expect to collect within a reasonable period of time. The IRS will not accept an offer if it believes that the taxpayer can pay the amount owed in full as a lump sum or through a payment agreement. The IRS looks at several factors, including the taxpayer’s income and assets, to make a decision regarding the taxpayer’s ability to pay. Use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool on IRS.gov to see if you may be eligible for an OIC.

Call us today at 813-514-2920 for a free consultation.

Federal IRS Tax Liens

A federal tax lien is the government’s legal claim against your property when you neglect or fail to pay a tax debt. The lien protects the government’s interest in all your property, including real estate, personal property and financial assets. A federal tax lien exists after the IRS:

  • Puts your balance due on the books (assesses your liability);
  • Sends you a bill that explains how much you owe (Notice and Demand for Payment); and

You:

  • Neglect or refuse to fully pay the debt in time.

The IRS files a public document, the Notice of Federal Tax Lien, to alert creditors that the government has a legal right to your property.

How to Get Rid of a Lien

Paying your tax debt – in full – is the best way to get rid of a federal tax lien. The IRS releases your lien within 30 days after you have paid your tax debt.

When conditions are in the best interest of both the government and the taxpayer, other options for reducing the impact of a lien exist.

Discharge of property – A “discharge” removes the lien from specific property. There are several Internal Revenue Code (IRC) provisions that determine eligibility..

Subordination – “Subordination” does not remove the lien, but allows other creditors to move ahead of the IRS, which may make it easier to get a loan or mortgage..

Withdrawal – A “withdrawal” removes the public Notice of Federal Tax Lien and assures that the IRS is not competing with other creditors for your property; however, you are still liable for the amount due.

How a Lien Affects You

  • Assets — A lien attaches to all of your assets (such as property, securities, vehicles) and to future assets acquired during the duration of the lien.
  • Credit — Once the IRS files a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, it may limit your ability to get credit.
  • Business — The lien attaches to all business property and to all rights to business property, including accounts receivable.
  • Bankruptcy — If you file for bankruptcy, your tax debt, lien, and Notice of Federal Tax Lien may continue after the bankruptcy.

 Avoiding an IRS Tax Lien

You can avoid a federal tax lien by simply filing and paying all your taxes in full and on time. If you can’t file or pay on time, don’t ignore the letters or correspondence you get from the IRS. If you can’t pay the full amount you owe, payment options are available to help you settle your tax debt over time.

Lien vs. Levy

A lien is not a levy. A lien secures the government’s interest in your property when you don’t pay your tax debt. A levy actually takes the property to pay the tax debt. If you don’t pay or make arrangements to settle your tax debt, the IRS can levy, seize and sell any type of real or personal property that you own or have an interest in.