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Want to File an IRS Offer in Compromise? Second, Review Income & Expenses.

January 13, 2017

Can I settle my tax debt for less that what I owe? (Part II)

This post is the second of five posts on filing an IRS Offer in Compromise.

After reviewing available equity, you can move onto the evaluation of your monthly income and expenses. The IRS wants to know your monthly disposable income, which is the difference between your income and expenses.

IRS Form 433-A (OIC): Section 7 Monthly Household Income and Expense Information begins with income.

Monthly Household Income

Understand that the IRS has a particular method for calculating monthly household income, and IRS Internal Revenue Manual 5.15.1.11 (11-17-2014) is your starting point. Since the IRS is looking for monthly figures, pay particular attention to the multiples used in converting weekly and bi-weekly (every two weeks) pay periods to a monthly number. Also, you will want to use these same multiples when calculating expenses shown on your paystub.

If income from wages is inconsistent, be sure to review IRS Internal Revenue Manual 5.8.5.20(4) (09-30-2013) because it provides guidance on handling income issues such as seasonal income, short and long-term unemployment history, looming retirement as well as potential bankruptcy candidates.

Monthly Household Expenses

I cannot stress how important it will be to review IRS Internal Revenue Manual 5.8.5.22 (10-22-2010) and its companion sections 5.15.1.7 (10-02-2012) through 5.15.1.10 (11-17-2014) at least a few times because the IRS calculates expenses differently than what you actually spend each month. For example, the IRS will allow you to claim a food and household item (i.e., groceries) expense which is often more than your actual grocery spend. In another example, the IRS will apply standards for housing and utility costs. If you spend more than the standard, you will have an uphill climb in getting the IRS offer examiner to allow you to claim more than the standard.

Moreover, review the types of expenses that the IRS considers conditional (see section 5.15.1.10). These expenses include private school tuition. When evaluating expenses for purposes of the offer in compromise, these monthly expenses are generally not allowed.

Calculation of Future Income

Once monthly income and expenses are calculated, simply subtract the expenses from income. This difference is known as your monthly remaining income. Next, as IRS Internal Revenue Manual 5.8.5.25 (09-30-2013) states, “Generally, the amount to be collected…is calculated by…multiplying the difference by the number of months applicable to the terms of offer.”

If an offer will be paid within five months of acceptance, then multiply the monthly remaining income by 12. If an offer will be paid between 6-24 months, then multiply the monthly remaining income by 24.

Example 1. Taxpayer calculates his monthly remaining income to be $300 per month and believes he can pay his offer in compromise within five months of acceptance. Taxpayer’s future income is $3,600 ($300 x 12).

Example 2. Taxpayer calculates his monthly remaining income to be $300 per month but will need six months to pay. Taxpayer’s future income is $7,200 ($300 x 24).

Example 3. Taxpayer calculates his monthly remaining income to be $0 per month. Regardless of the taxpayer’s time frame for payment, his future income is $0.

Given the way the IRS calculates income and expenses, it is possible for taxpayers to show $0 for monthly remaining income. While your calculations are subject to verification from the offer examiner, do not be afraid to submit your offer with a negative number for remaining monthly income.


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