Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Offer In Compromise: IRS Criteria

Should the IRS determine that a taxpayer is unable to pay the liability in a lump sum or through an installment agreement and has exhausted the search for other payment arrangements the last option would be to file an Offer in Compromise (OIC).
An OIC allows taxpayers to settle their tax liabilities for less than the full amount. Taxpayers should use the checklist in the Form 656, Offer in Compromise, package to determine if they are eligible for an offer in compromise. The objective of the OIC program is to accept a compromise when it is in the best interests of both the taxpayer and the government and promotes voluntary compliance with all future payment and filing requirements. See IRS Policy Statement P-5-100 for the complete OIC policy statement.
Major Changes to the OIC Program
The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (TIPRA), created major changes to the IRS OIC program as it relates to lump sum offers, periodic payment offers, and a determination as to when an offer is accepted. These changes affect all offers received by the IRS on or after July 16, 2006.
TIPRA, section 509, amends Internal Revenue Code section 7122 by adding a new subsection (c) “Rules for Submission of Offers in Compromise" which establishes the following:
A taxpayer filing a lump sum offer must pay 20 percent of the offer amount with the application (IRC 7122(c)(1)(A)). A lump sum offer means any offer of payments made in five or fewer installments.
A taxpayer filing a periodic payment offer must pay the first proposed installment payment with the application and pay additional installments while the IRS is evaluating the offer. A periodic payment offer means any offer of payments made in six or more installments.

Payments are Non-refundable:

The IRS considers the 20 percent payment for a lump sum offer, and the installment payment on a periodic payment offer, as "payments on tax" and are not refundable regardless of whether the offer is declared not processable or is later returned, withdrawn, rejected or terminated by the IRS.
Taxpayers May Designate Payments:

Taxpayers may designate the application of the required TIPRA payments. The designation must be made in writing when the offer is submitted and must clearly specify how the partial payments are to be applied to a particular tax period(s) and to specific liabilities (e.g. income taxes, employment taxes, trust fund portions of employment, excise tax, etc.) Taxpayers may not designate how the $150 application fee is applied. The application fee reduces the assessed tax or other amounts due.
TIPRA and Application Fee Payment Exceptions
A taxpayer who qualifies for a low-income exception waiver or is filing a doubt as to liability offer is not required to pay the application fee, the 20 percent payment on a lump sum offer, or the initial payments required on a short term or deferred periodic payment offer. To determine low-income eligibility, refer to the section titled Application Fee Required for OIC.

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