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The Best Options To Lower Your Current Tax Debt

by Vinisius Jr

It’s a sinking feeling: You open a letter from the tax authorities and discover you owe more than you can immediately afford. Whether through a miscalculation, financial hardship, or unforeseen circumstances, you now face tax debt. Panic and fear may be your initial reactions, but it’s essential to know that there are options available to manage and lower this debt. Taking prompt, strategic steps can help mitigate penalties and reduce the amount you owe.

Here, we will discuss some of the best options you have for lowering your tax debt, so you can breathe a little easier.

1. Consult A Professional For Tailored Advice

When it comes to dealing with tax issues, one of the smartest moves you can make is to seek professional advice. Tax attorneys, certified accountants, or tax relief services can provide you with insights tailored specifically to your situation. Professionals understand the intricacies of tax laws, which options can be combined, and the best ways to negotiate with tax authorities. While this will incur some upfront costs, the long-term savings could be significantly more substantial.

2. Consider An Installment Agreement

If you can’t pay your tax debt in a lump sum, an installment agreement allows you to make monthly payments over a period. This approach doesn’t necessarily reduce the total amount owed, but it does give you more time to pay it off without incurring hefty penalties.

However, it’s crucial to remember that interest will continue to accrue on the unpaid balance, so try to negotiate the shortest possible term you can manage.

3. Offer In Compromise

An Offer in Compromise (OIC) is a more drastic measure that essentially allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the total amount owed. This option is generally only available if there’s doubt as to the collectibility of the tax debt, doubt as to liability, or if payment would create financial hardship.

An OIC is not easy to obtain, and acceptance criteria are stringent. A substantial amount of documentation is required to prove your financial situation, so be prepared for a thorough review process.

4. Apply For Penalty Abatement

Penalties can increase your tax debt considerably. In some situations, you can apply for penalty abatement, which removes some or all of these additional charges.

The IRS often considers abatement if you have a reasonable cause for not paying on time, such as a medical emergency. Professional help can again be invaluable here; they can guide you on how to make a compelling case for abatement.

5. Declare Currently Not Collectible Status

In extreme cases where payment would create undue hardship, you might be eligible for a Currently Not Collectible (CNC) status. If granted, this temporarily halts collection efforts against you. Although this doesn’t reduce your debt, it does provide time to improve your financial situation.

During this period, the statute of limitations on your tax debt continues to run, possibly leading to some amount of the debt expiring.

6. Leverage Tax Credits And Deductions

Sometimes lowering your tax debt can start before you even file your taxes. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all available tax credits and deductions. This could reduce your taxable income, resulting in a smaller tax bill when it’s time to file.

The professional you consult can guide you through what credits and deductions are available based on your specific circumstances.

7. Avoid Future Debts

Although not a method for reducing current tax debt, avoiding future debts can make it easier to pay off what you owe now. Review your withholdings and estimated payments to ensure you’re paying enough throughout the year.

Also, engage in tax planning to foresee potential debts and take proactive steps to mitigate them.


Tax debt can be overwhelming, but there are several avenues for relief. Whether you decide to consult a professional, negotiate an installment agreement, apply for an Offer in Compromise, or take other steps, the key is to act swiftly. Proactive action can minimize additional penalties and interest, making your tax debt more manageable.

By understanding and leveraging these options, you can pave the way to financial stability and peace of mind.

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