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Some Pros and Cons of Offers in Compromise

The Offer in Compromise (OIC) is one of the most popular and widely misunderstood programs the IRS has to offer.
Television and radio ads blare out to the poor taxpayer how they can “Call now, and speak to our experienced representatives who will help you settle with the IRS for pennies on the dollar!”  As if they had some magical inside track to convincing the IRS to give you some special deal.
At times I have gotten clients who have come back from working with these big nationally advertised tax settlement companies only to complain how they were taken for big retainers and still have the same IRS debt as before.  That is because most OIC’s get rejected for failing to qualify.
Requirements to Qualify
It is true that an Offer in Compromise can allow you to settle for pennies on the dollar.  But like anything that may be too good to be true, there are a strict requirements to qualify:  The two main ones being 1)  your monthly disposable income must be very very low (and IRS determines what this number is using pretty stingy formulas for your basic monthly needs) and 2)  you must have virtually zero assets –  almost no cash in the bank, no equity in your house, etc.   Then you may qualify.  An OIC can take up to a year to process, depending on which part of the country you are in.  During that time the CSED (collection statute expiration date) freezes, meaning that the 10 year clock that ticks to allow your tax debt to expire stops ticking, which may not be good, especially if you are at all close to the end of that clock.  If you are, just let it tick!
Upside to Offer in Compromise
An upside to OIC’s is that collection activity  (bank account levies, etc.) are put on hold while the OIC is pending.  However, some taxpayers are shocked to discover that ongoing levies  (wages, etc.) that were placed on their income before the OIC was filed continue to stay in place.  (see contract section “f” of the OIC provisions).
Know Before You Go 
Like anything else in life, you should know before you go.  Just filing an OIC without knowing whether you really qualify can be a waste of time and money. Call or email me to find out if your situation qualifies for an Offer in Compromise, or whether a different solution might be better for you.
James JacksonSome Pros and Cons of Offers in Compromise


Join the conversation
  • guedes1010 - June 3, 2012

    The IRS stated it will use less strict Offer in Compromise (OIC) terms for struggling taxpayers.

    Wahyuni - June 28, 2012

    No, it doesn’t affect your 2008 refnud, which is whatever it would have been if there had been no stimulus package or checks. The exception is if you didn’t qualify last year, but qualify based on your 2008 return, you’d receive the stimulus payment added to your refnud.Unfortunately, many of the tax software designers took a short cut and calculated the stimulus into your refnud for 2008 automatically, then have you subtract it back out if you got it last year. This is causing massive confusion among people who think it’s being subtracted from their refnuds it’s only being subtracted if it shouldn’t have been there in the first place this year since you already got it last year.

  • bayu - June 28, 2012

    ACTUALLY YES!!! when asked to enter the amount you revceied from 2008 stimulus and then you proceed you will notice that amount is deducted from your return. Try it out if you dont believe me. here is what you will getThis is what i got when i entered in that revceied 600..then my return was decreased by 600 Your recovery rebate credit is $0. Your credit is reduced by any economic stimulus payment you received in 2008. If i changed that number to 0 i got this Your recovery rebate credit is $600. Your credit is reduced by any economic stimulus payment you received in 2008 and my return increased by 600$

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