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Want to File an IRS Offer in Compromise? Third, The Application.

February 3, 2017

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

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

Previously, we reviewed available equity and monthly disposable income. Now, we will review the application booklet.

IRS Form 656 Booklet contains all the IRS forms you need to submit when filing an offer in compromise. Since the vast majority of offers are for personal tax liabilities, we will focus on Form 656 and Form 433-A (OIC).

IRS Form 433-A (OIC)

First, read through the entire booklet at least twice. You’ll want to become familiar with not only the form itself, but the notes and instructions provided by the IRS. Once you begin, you’ll notice the offer begins by requesting your basic information such as name, social, marital status, etc. Section 2 requests employment information. This is straightforward for regular wage earners, but if you earn income from independent contract work or have an LLC taxed as a sole proprietorship, you will also need to fill out sections 4-6. Please note, if you have an LLC taxed as a C or S Corporation, you will have to fill out Form 433-B (OIC).

Internal Revenue Manual Section 5.8

Internal Revenue Manual (“IRM”) Section 5.8 is your friend. In our previous two posts, I have referred back to the IRM extensively. The IRM is essentially the IRS playbook. For the most part, there are instructions and/or analysis for nearly every line item on IRS Form 433-A (OIC). Have the IRM open and available as you prepare your offer. Refer to my last two offer in compromise posts to get you through the remainder of Form 433-A (OIC).

Form 656

IRS Form 656 summarizes the offer in compromise you plan to file with the IRS. Again, the information requested here is pretty straightforward. The IRS will ask which debts you want to compromise. They assume it is all of them, so if you miss a particular tax period, the IRS Offer Examiner will correct that for you if the offer is accepted.

The most important question with Form 656 is whether or not you will be required to submit the application fee and make a 20% down payment toward the amount you are offering. The biggest mistake is that people misunderstand their gross income to be the amount of money they receive from their employer. Gross income is the amount of money someone earns before the employer takes out even a penny for taxes or employee benefits. If your gross is above the low-income certification and you submit an application without a fee or 20% down payment, the IRS will usually follow up and request the monies before allowing the application to continue. You will have 30-days to respond. If you do not respond in time, The IRS will “return” the offer. This is as if the offer in compromise was never submitted. You have no appeal rights and will have to resubmit the application once again. When in doubt, submit the application with the fee and 20% down payment.

Once you complete Form 656 and 433-A (OIC) and submit the offer via regular mail, you should receive acknowledgement letter from the IRS in about three weeks. This letter will provide a proposed follow up date, which is usually between 5 to 8 months.

The offset to the long wait is that the IRS will stop all potential forced collection action (i.e. levies and garnishments) until the offer process is complete. So, once the acknowledgement letter is received, the waiting begins.

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