The unemployment rate remains high and there is no telling when most people will rebound from the economic downturn. It goes without saying that taxpayers across the country are facing financial hardship. Many people are turning to their IRAs to access cash or selling their homes at a loss to get out from under their mortgage payment. What many people do not realize is there are tax implications for these situations. The following questions and answers from the IRS’ website may help you with your current situation. And remember, I am happy to answer your tax resolution questions on the Q&A page of our blog.
What if I can’t pay my taxes?
Don’t panic. If you cannot pay the full amount of taxes you owe, you should still file your return by the deadline and pay as much as you can to avoid penalties and interest. You also should contact the IRS to discuss your payment options at 1-800-829-1040. The agency may be able to provide some relief such as a short-term extension to pay, an installment agreement or an Offer in Compromise. In some cases, the agency may be able to waive penalties. However, the agency is unable to waive interest charges which accrue on unpaid tax bills. For more information, see The Collection Process and Tax Payment Options. The Form 1040 Instructions also provide guidance on filing and paying your taxes.
What if I withdraw money from my IRA?
Generally, early withdrawal from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) prior to age 59½ is subject to being included in gross income plus a 10 percent additional tax penalty. There are exceptions to the 10 percent penalty, such as using IRA funds to pay your medical insurance premium after a job loss. For more information, see Publication 590, Individual Retirement Accounts.
What if I sell my home for a loss?
Losses from the sale of personal–use property, such as your home or car, are not deductible. It is not eligible for the capital gains loss of up to $3,000 annually. For more information, see Publication 523, Selling Your Home.
What if I can’t pay my Installment Agreement?
You have several options available if your ability to pay has changed and you are unable to make payments on your installment agreement or your offer in compromise agreement with the IRS. Call the IRS immediately at 1-800-829-1040. Options could include reducing the monthly payment to reflect your current financial condition. You may be asked to provide proof of changes in your financial situation so have that information available when you call.
What if a levy on my wages is causing a hardship?
Contact the IRS at the telephone number on the levy or correspondence immediately and explain your financial situation. Service is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday. If the levy is creating an immediate economic hardship, the levy may be released. A levy release does not mean you are exempt from paying the balance. The IRS will work with you to establish payment plans or take other steps to help you pay off the balance. To help ensure quick action, please have the fax number available for the bank or employer office that is processing the levy. For more information, see Levy.
What if I can’t resolve my tax problem with the IRS?
Contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). TAS is an independent organization within the IRS whose employees assist taxpayers who are experiencing economic harm, who are seeking help in resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through normal channels, or who believe that an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should.
You can contact TAS by calling the TAS toll-free case intake line at 1-877-777-4778 or TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059 to determine whether you are eligible for assistance. You can also call or write to your local taxpayer advocate, whose phone number and address are listed in your local telephone directory and in Publication 1546, Taxpayer Advocate Service – Your Voice at the IRS. You can file Form 911, Request For Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (And Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order), or ask an IRS employee to complete it on your behalf. For more information, go to http://www.irs.gov/advocate.