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What You Must Know Before You File an Offer in Compromise

All Taxpayers Do Not Qualify for an Offer in Compromise
Absent special circumstances, if you have the ability to fully pay your tax liability in a lump sum or via an installment agreement, an offer in compromise will not be accepted.

Offer in Compromise Payments are Non-refundable
The IRS considers the 20 percent payment for a lump sum offer and any periodic payments as "payments on tax" and are not refundable, regardless of whether the offer is declared not-processable or is later returned, withdrawn, rejected or terminated by the IRS.

Federal Tax Liens are Not Released
If there is a Notice of Federal Tax Lien on record prior to acceptance of the offer, the lien is not released until the OIC terms are satisfied or until the liability is paid, whichever comes first.  A Notice of Federal Tax Lien may be filed during the course of the OIC investigation.

Payments May be Designated
You may designate in writing how the IRS should apply payments made with the filing of the offer and while an offer is under investigation. Without a written designation, payments will be applied to the tax liability and in the government's best interest. The $150 application fee cannot be designated, but is applied to the tax liability and in the government's best interest.

The IRS will keep any refund, including interest due, because of an overpayment of any tax or other liability, for tax periods extending through the calendar year the IRS accepts the OIC.

Exception: Offers submitted under the basis of doubt as to liability.

The IRS will keep all payments and credits made, received or applied to the total original tax liability before the OIC was submitted.  The IRS may also keep any proceeds from a levy that was served prior to the submission of an OIC, but which were not received at the time the OIC was submitted.

Statutory Period for Collection Suspended
The statutory period for collection is suspended during the period that the OIC is under consideration (pending) and is further suspended if the OIC is rejected by the IRS and you appeal the rejection.

Five Year Compliance
If your offer is accepted, you must timely file all tax returns and timely pay all tax for five years or until the offered amount is paid in full, whichever period is longer.  Failure to adhere to these terms will result in default of the offer and the IRS may then collect the amounts originally owed plus penalties and interest.

OIC Payment and Application Fee Exceptions
If you qualify for a low-income exception waiver or you submit a doubt as to liability offer you are exempt from the $150 application fee and any OIC payments due upon submission of the OIC or during the course of the investigation. The low income waiver does not apply to businesses.

If your OIC is rejected, you will have the opportunity to file an appeal which will be heard by the IRS Office of Appeals.  There are no appeal rights associated with offers that are returned, withdrawn or terminated.

Approved Installment Agreement
If you have an approved installment agreement and submit a periodic payment offer, you are not required to continue to make the installment agreement payments while the offer is being investigated.  You will, however, be required to make the OIC periodic payments as they become due.

Mandatory Acceptance
Per IRC 7122(f), the IRS will deem an offer "accepted" if it is not withdrawn, returned or rejected within 24 months of the IRS receipt date. If a liability included in the offer amount is disputed in any judicial proceeding, that time period is omitted from calculating the 24-month time frame.

Public Inspection Files
The law requires the IRS to make certain information from accepted Offers in Compromise available for public inspection and review. These public inspection file locations are located in designated IRS Area Offices.

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