What Are My Options If I Owe More Money Than I Can Pay to the Government?

So number one the key word in that sentence is options. You have lots of options. The options that we recommend are ones that get you into compliance. So you can number one full pay the liability. If you don't have enough money to full pay the liability, you can ask them for an extension of time up to call it four or five months before they're going to request payment. If you still can't pay the liability then what you reasonably should do is enter into a payment plan or propose a settlement to them. So a payment plan is exactly what it sounds like. You make a series of payments to them over time and a settlement is what's more commonly known as an offer in compromise where if you have a liability and you know that you'll never ever be able to pay it, you can offer them a reduced amount and in exchange for that amount they will forgive your liability. The next option that you have is if those don't work for you for

whatever reason, you can enter yourself into a hardship which is called currently non-collectible status. You have to document evidence of your hardship. You'll have to provide them with financial information and then they will put a reprieve on you from collecting the liability either in the short term or in the long term. So generally currently non-collectible status can last anywhere from six months to about two years. The last option that you have is bankruptcy but bankruptcy is something that I consider generally to be a nuclear option because bankruptcy has a lot of impact on you outside of your tax situation. So if the only thing that you owe is tax debt or maybe some small consumer debts like credit cards, generally working through the administrative process is much more favorable to bankruptcy and bankruptcy is a separate topic of conversation but that's kind of the lay of the land. You can pay if you can request more time to pay it, you can put yourself on a payment plan, you can settle the liability, you can ask for a hardship or you can go into bankruptcy and so those are really your six options for dealing with liabilities that you can't afford to pay.


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law