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I can’t pay my taxes. What should I do?

You tried to be responsible. You gathered all of your financial documents, and you filed your tax return before the deadline. However, when you finished, you discovered you’re on the hook for a lot more money than expected—more than you have in the bank.

What do you do? Do you have to take out a loan to pay off your taxes? Or ask your family and friends for help?

Fortunately, the IRS offers some options to help you out—but only if you’ve already filed your required tax returns. If you’ve missed the filing deadline, then the below options are unavailable to you, and you should contact an attorney experienced in IRS debt to help you come up with a solution.

If you owe $10,000 or less:

You can apply for a Guaranteed Installment Agreement. This is an agreement under which the IRS allows you to pay off your tax liability in monthly installments over a three-year period. To qualify for this agreement, you must have a clean tax record over the past five years—i.e., you’ve filed your tax returns each year, you’ve paid any taxes you owe and you haven’t entered into another tax installment agreement.

If you owe up to $50,000:

Even if your tax liability is under $10,000 but you need more than three years to pay it off, a Streamlined Installment Agreement could be a good option for you. Under this agreement, you can pay off your liability in monthly installments over a six-year period. Note that for tax liability above $25,000, tax payers must submit payment via payroll deduction or direct deposit.

Regardless of your tax debt situation, talking to attorney with in-depth knowledge in this field can be an extremely valuable first step to resolution.

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