I’ve written elsewhere on my site about IRS Installment Agreements, which are payment plans to repay the IRS over a period of time (usually 72 months if it is a streamlined agreement). But unfortunately, the IRS continues to impose penalty and interest during the course of the Installment Agreement.
What are the alternatives and how is one to reduce the imposition of penalty and interest? One option is to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in order to repay the IRS (as well as other debts you might have) because unless the IRS filed a tax lien against equity assets, then it cannot charge penalty and interest during the Chapter 13 process.
How a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing might be able to help you
- potential reduction of IRS tax debt, because the IRS will be forced by the Bankruptcy Code to separate its claim into a “secured” component, and then a “priority” component which usually involves the last 3 years of tax debts, and then a “general unsecured” component which consists of older tax years owed. Chapter 13 filers are required to pay the secured and priority portions of their IRS claims in full over a 5 year period. But they are only required to pay on the general unsecured portion according to their ability to pay. Therefore, a Chapter 13 filer with limited income might be able to pay 0% towards the older years, but at the end of the case, the balances are discharged (wiped out) in full. Obviously, this is a huge benefit to someone considering a bankruptcy filing;
- if you have high IRS balances owed (more than $50,000), then a Chapter 13 filing will prevent the IRS from scrutinizing your income and expenses. As a general rule, the Bankruptcy Trustee and Bankruptcy Court are less likely to question your monthly household budget;
- elimination of IRS interest and reduction of penalty while in the bankruptcy, and
- there is an “automatic stay” from the Bankruptcy Court that prevents the IRS from doing any enforced collections against a bankruptcy filer. Believe it or not, but someone with IRS debts who has filed a bankruptcy case will usually be permitted to keep their IRS tax refunds while in the bankruptcy case.
- the final big advantage to filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is that the Chapter 13 payment plan will be designed to pay off other debts as well. In other words, if you are struggling with credit card payments or a car or mortgage payment, then the Chapter 13 plan can help you catch up on those debts as well
In sum, there can be many advantages to filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case in order to pay off the IRS. For each taxpayer though, this is an individual decision that must be evaluated closely after examining all of their debts.