Tax Settlement with the IRS

The Pros and Cons of Tax Settlement explained by a Tax Relief Helpers' team member

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Everything you need to know about the pros and cons of tax settlement 

If you’ve had a large tax bill from the IRS that you don’t think you can pay, you may have heard that a tax settlement could just be the solution you need

But as with most things related to the IRS, it can be complicated and intimidating trying to navigate through all the information online to find out exactly what you need to know… 

…like what exactly are tax settlements, how do they work, are they the best option for you, and are there any further tax consequences of a settlement with the IRS?

Given the nature and complexity of the topic, there is no one short answer to any of these questions. But this article will give you a good basic understanding of tax settlements with the IRS. 

And then, if you want to explore this or other tax relief options further – we’d suggest giving us a call. Here at Tax Relief Helpers we have a team of seasoned experts in tax resolution who will be able to give you the best advice based on your individual circumstances, before helping you through the entire process with the IRS.

Tax settlement options and tax consequences

So what is a tax settlement? It’s essentially an agreement that is negotiated directly between yourself and the IRS, to settle or manage your tax debt in a way that is possible based on your financial situation. 

There are a number of specific resolution options offered by the IRS that fall under the term “tax settlement”. These include Offer in Compromise, Penalty Abatement, Partial Payment, Currently Not Collectable, and others. 

Essentially, they all come down to two main options: 

  • An agreement to settle for a lower total amount than is owed
  • An agreement to settle your tax debt over a longer period of time 

There are a number of strict qualifications a taxpayer must meet to be eligible for either option. But if granted, a tax settlement is generally considered the most desirable outcome for anyone with significant tax debt. 

Why? Because it will save you a significant amount of money, remove the worry of collection agencies or the burden of tax debt, and keep you in good standing with the IRS. 

Unlike standard debt settlements, there are no further implications that come from a tax settlement. There aren’t any tax consequences, your credit score won’t be affected, and you don’t have to declare anything publicly. 

The pros and cons of tax settlement with the IRS

If you qualify for a tax settlement, there is generally no reason not to go ahead. The pros are significant, and there are very few cons.

However, the issue of qualifying is the main challenge, as the criteria are complex and the process can be long. And this is where most of the “cons” of tax settlement fall. 

The pros of tax settlement

  • Reduce your total tax debt to something you can afford. 
  • No longer be subject to late fees, penalties, and interest charges.
  • Avoid liens, levies, and garnishments on your assets or paychecks.
  • Remain in good standing with the IRS.
  • No public record or impact on your credit score.
  • Eliminate the stress of tax debt hanging over you.
  • No longer worry about collection agencies or other potential repercussions.

The cons of tax settlement

  • The different options for tax settlement can be confusing to understand.
  • Each tax settlement option has its own strict set of qualification requirements.
  • The application process is complex and time-consuming.
  • Your application might be rejected, and your debt may subsequently be even higher than before due to interest and potential penalties that have accumulated during the application process. 
  • It’s an opportunity for the IRS to thoroughly explore your finances, past and present.

As you can see, with the exception of the IRS having opportunity to dig deep into your financial situation – which is never appealing, but by far the lesser evil compared to a tax debt you’re unable to pay – the only real “cons” of applying for a tax settlement come from the risk of it being rejected. 

And this is why it’s worth using an intermediary such as the Tax Relief Helpers. We have substantial experience helping people claim tax relief, and know all the different options available, as well as what it takes to qualify for each. This means we’re able to remove the vast majority of the risk of a settlement being rejected, and will only recommend courses of action that you qualify for.

Understanding the tax consequences of a settlement with the IRS

Many people worry about the tax consequences of settlement agreements with the IRS, but simply put: there are none. 

You may have read that any canceled or reduced debt from a settlement agreement is taxable in subsequent years, which is correct. However, this only applies to debt settlements with other creditors, such as a credit card company or other service provider. In these instances, the reduction in debt is considered as a taxable income that needs to be reported in your next tax return. 

However, debt settlement is completely different to tax settlement. 
A tax settlement agreement with the IRS relates solely to the tax you already owe, not another form of debt. So in itself, it is not taxable and therefore can’t have any further tax consequences.

Tax settlement vs. bankruptcy: comparing the tax consequences

You may have also heard that filing for bankruptcy can eliminate tax debts.

While this is true to some extent, it’s not a simple solution – and if you’re solely considering bankruptcy as a means of clearing your tax debt, it’s probably not your best solution. 

Bankruptcy does enable you to eliminate some taxes, but only those that are at least three years old, and only income taxes. Bankruptcy also negatively affects your credit score, may require you to liquidate your assets, and is a matter of public record. 
While there aren’t any specific tax consequences of bankruptcy, there are many other factors to consider when weighing up this option and generally speaking, it should be considered a last resort. If this is something you’re considering, you should absolutely consult a qualified bankruptcy attorney who can explain all the potential consequences.  

Negotiating tax settlements with the IRS

Many people are scared to approach the IRS to discuss taxes they cannot pay. Yet the whole point of negotiation and settlement is to come to an agreement that benefits both you and the IRS. 

If your financial situation means you are simply unable to pay your tax debt, reaching an alternative agreement is an optimal solution for both parties. It allows the IRS to collect as much from you as is financially possible without pushing you into extreme financial hardship, and without having to commit continued resources to chasing your debt. And it allows you to move on with your life without the stress and burden of debt hanging over you. 

We know how stressful it is to owe taxes to the IRS. We also know how the IRS works, the many different tax settlement options it offers individuals who are struggling to pay their debts, and the best way to navigate the entire process. 

If you have a substantial tax debt, don’t ignore it and don’t suffer the burden alone. Give us a call, and let us help you find the optimal solution. 

Tax Relief Helpers will be able to explain all your options, negotiate settlements on your behalf, and save you a considerable amount of time, money, and stress.