The IRS always urges taxpayers to pay their current tax liabilities when due, to avoid interest and penalties. Taxpayers who can’t pay the full amount are urged to pay as much as they can, for the same reason. But some taxpayers cannot pay their full tax liability by the normal April 15 deadline (April 18th in 2016 because of the intersection of a weekend and a District of Columbia holiday).
One alternative is to enter into an installment payment agreement with the IRS, where taxpayers agree in writing to make monthly payments to the IRS and to reduce their tax liability to zero over a reasonable period of time. The IRS may also agree to an installment payment arrangement for back taxes. Penalties and interest may continue to accrue, although the IRS may reduce the penalties. While the IRS is authorized to enter into a partial payment installment agreement for a portion of the taxpayer’s liability, the agency has been reluctant to do this.
Taxpayers who cannot pay the tax liability reported on their current income tax return should submit Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, to the IRS, to request a monthly installment plan. A taxpayer who owes more than $50,000 should provide Form 433-F, Collection Information Statement, along with the request. Taxpayers can enter into different types of agreements, including:
- A traditional agreement, where they agree to make their monthly payment by check, money order, or credit card;
- A direct debit installment agreement, to make automatic payments from a bank account; or
- A payroll deduction agreement, with payments made by the employer from a paycheck.
The IRS charges a user fee for entering into an agreement: $120 for a traditional agreement; or $52 for a direct debit agreement. Qualifying low-income taxpayers pay a fee of $43, regardless of the type of agreement. If the agreement is restructured (because of a change in the taxpayer’s financial condition, for example), or if the IRS terminates the agreement and then agrees to reinstate it, the IRS will charge a fee of $50.
The IRS’s procedures include different kinds of agreements, depending on the taxpayer’s circumstances:
- Taxpayers can use Form 9465 to apply for a streamlined agreement. The taxpayer must owe $50,000 or less and must pay all their taxes within 72 months or by the expiration of the collection statute of limitations (generally 10 years).
- Instead of using Form 9465, taxpayers can apply for an online payment agreement, provided the taxpayer owes $50,000 or less in taxes, interest and penalties, or provided the taxpayer owns a business and owes $25,000 or less in total. A taxpayer cannot apply online for this agreement if the taxpayer owes more than $50,000.
- Taxpayers who owe $10,000 or less (without interest or penalties) can enter into a guaranteed installment agreement if the taxpayer agrees to pay all taxes within three years. The taxpayer must have filed all returns and paid all taxes due for the past five years, and cannot have entered into an installment agreement in the same period.
- A taxpayer who can make full payment within 120 days should not use Form 9465 but should instead call the IRS phone line to make arrangements. There is no user fee.