IRS Offer-in-Compromise (OIC) Terms Now More Flexible
The IRS recognizes that many taxpayers are still struggling to pay their bills so the agency has been working to put in place common-sense changes to the Offer-in-Compromise (OIC) program to more closely reflect real-world situations. Generally an OIC is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed subject to acceptance on legal requirements.
An OIC is generally only accepted if the IRS believes the liability cannot be paid in full as a lump sum or through a payment agreement as determined by reviewing income and assets to arrive at what is referred to as your reasonable collection potential. As such the IRS announced interim guidance via a Memorandum for Offer in Compromise via IR-2012-53 another expansion of its Fresh Start initiative by offering more flexible terms to its Offer in Compromise (OIC) program that will enable some of the most financially distressed taxpayers to clear up their tax problems and in many cases more quickly than in the past.
The announcement focuses on the financial analysis used to determine which taxpayers qualify for an OIC. This announcement also enables some taxpayers to resolve their tax problems in as little as two years compared to four or five years in the past. In certain circumstances, the changes announced today include:
Revising the calculation for the taxpayer’s future income.
Allowing taxpayers to repay their student loans.
Allowing taxpayers to pay state and local delinquent taxes.
Expanding the Allowable Living Expense allowance category and amount.
When the IRS calculates a taxpayer’s reasonable collection potential, it will now look at only one year of future income for offers paid in five or fewer months, down from four years, and two years of future income for offers paid in six to 24 months, down from five years. All offers must be fully paid within 24 months of the date the offer is accepted. The Form 656-B, Offer in Compromise Booklet, and Form 656, Offer in Compromise, has been revised to reflect the changes.
Other changes to the program include narrowed parameters and clarification of when a dissipated asset will be included in the calculation of reasonable collection potential. In addition, equity in income producing assets generally will not be included in the calculation of reasonable collection potential for on-going businesses.
Allowable Living Expenses
The Allowable Living Expense standards are used in cases requiring financial analysis to determine a taxpayer’s ability to pay. The standard allowances provide consistency and fairness in collection determinations by incorporating average expenditures for basic necessities for citizens in similar geographic areas. These standards are used when evaluating installment agreement and offer in compromise requests.
The National Standard miscellaneous allowance has been expanded to include additional items. Taxpayers can use the miscellaneous allowance for expenses such as credit card payments and bank fees and charges.
Guidance has also been clarified to allow payments for loans guaranteed by the federal government for the taxpayer’s post-high school education. In addition, payments for delinquent state and local taxes may be allowed based on percentage basis of tax owed to the state and IRS.
Last, if your OIC is rejected you can always self asses whether appealing their determination is right for you by using the IRS’ online self-help tool.