Fortunately, if you owe the IRS and don't have the cash, "The Money Coach" Lynnette Khalfani-Cox says you do have some options. Here are four of them:
The benefit of this strategy is that you avoid late payment penalties from the IRS, which can be as much as 25% of any unpaid taxes. But the downside is that you have the pay the interest rate on your credit card. Plus there's a "convenience fee" to pay the IRS with a credit card. It's about 2% to 4% of the amount you charge. And don't forget that if you max out your credit card, your credit score could drop too.
2. Get a temporary extension to pay.
You can fill out an Online Payment Agreement Application asking the IRS for an extension of 1 to 4 months to pay your taxes.
There's no filing fee for an extension to pay. However, there are penalties. The non-payment penalty is 1/2 of 1% for each month or part of a month your taxes are unpaid. So let's assume you took the maximum time - 4 months - that means you'd pay another 2% on top of your taxes due.
There's one exception to this rule. If you can't pay because you were unemployed for 30 consecutive days in 2011 or in 2012 up to today's tax filing deadline, the IRS is waiving failure to pay penalties for 6 months. You can get a penalty waiver by filling out IRS form 1127A.
3. Create an installment agreement.
If you can't pay in full within 120 days, there's another alternative. You can go into a long-term installment agreement with the IRS, for up to 6 years, as long as your taxes owed are $50,000 or less and you've filed all your previous returns.
Interest rates from the IRS can sometimes be less than interest charges imposed by your credit card issuer. If you enter into an installment agreement with the IRS, as opposed to using your credit card, the interest rate charged on an installment plan is currently about 3.2%, with that rate changing each quarter.
To request an installment agreement, you don't even have to deal with the IRS over the phone or face-to-face. Just fill out the web-based Installment Agreement form available through the IRS website.
To lock in your agreement, you'll have to Complete IRS Form 9465-FS, Installment Agreement Request. If you owe more than $50,000, you must also complete Form 433-F, Collection Information Statement.
4. Propose an Offer in Compromise
A final option is to investigate whether you qualify for an Offer in Compromise deal with the IRS. When you propose an Offer in Compromise to the IRS, you're essentially asking to settle your tax bill for less than the full amount owed.
The IRS usually only accepts an Offer in Compromise when you're experiencing clear and dire financial hardship and it's clear that even if you entered an installment agreement, you wouldn't be able to pay off your taxes over several years.
Lastly, just remember to file your taxes. No matter what you owe. Otherwise, the IRS will hit you with a 25% failure to file penalty.
So for now, if you can't pay everything, just send in some money (whatever you can afford) with your tax return. The IRS will simply send you a letter in 4 to 8 weeks saying what your remaining balance is ... and at that point you can work out an installment plan.