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April 15, 2009 4:34 AM   Subscribe

I can't pay my taxes right now, but according to the IRS's information form on payment plans, if I can pay within 120 days I don't need a installment plan -- which would charge interest. The form requests that I call the IRS to notify them and get more information. However, I haven't been able to get through on their phone line for the last week, and now it's the 15th. What should I do?

I can pay what I owe within 120 days, just not right now, and I would love to avoid the interest charges that come with a payment plan. The only official form that seems to let you request a late payment is the installment plan request -- what form should you submit, if any, to tell the IRS that payment is coming within 120 days?

I don't want you to think I'm using AskMe as a substitute for doing the footwork myself -- when I say I can't get through to the IRS on their phone line, I don't mean that I've been put on hold for long periods of time. I mean the system has disconnected me after telling me it's swamped with calls from fellow taxpayers.

I've tried emailing my accountant, who, one would assume, would both know the answer to this question and take care of it for me, but either because he too is swamped or is being unprofessional I haven't heard back from him. Yes, I'll keep this in mind when selecting a tax preparation professional for next year.

I'm sure their is a simple answer to this. I just want to make sure that I take the proper steps to avoid being in any kind of arrears with the IRS.

Thanks, and good luck to everyone getting their paperwork out!
posted by foxy_hedgehog to Work & Money (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

..although maybe not, as the page also says "Please be aware that an extension of time to file your return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your tax liability."

posted by Lucinda at 4:40 AM on April 15, 2009

IANA Tax Lawyer, but I've had run-ins with the IRS. I'm fairly surethat it's a default 120 days and nothing specific needs to be done to get this. That would explain why, in my past days of tax irresponsibility, the IRS hasn't pinged me about owed taxes until the August/September after tax day.
posted by zerokey at 4:51 AM on April 15, 2009

Thanks, Lucinda -- but as you've noted, a filing extension is for paperwork, not payment...
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:20 AM on April 15, 2009

You certainly won't be able to avoid interest. You might be able to avoid the penalty. Did you try the IRS toll-free number 18008291040 ? I got through yesterday in 5 minutes.
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 6:39 AM on April 15, 2009

Yes, peter, that's the number I haven't been able to get through on. I'm trying again today.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:52 AM on April 15, 2009

Last year I filed on time but didn't pay when I filed. In June I received a notice from the IRS about what I owed plus a penalty, which wasn't much. I paid when I got the bill and have had no problems. The key thing seems to be to file the paperwork.
posted by nnk at 7:07 AM on April 15, 2009

I think I referred to this last year: Filing Late and/or Paying Late
posted by nnk at 7:16 AM on April 15, 2009

OK, I was on hold for half an hour but finally got through and wanted to share the information.

If you don't pay right away, you do have 120 days to cough it up. You will get a bill from the IRS in June or thereabouts that includes interest and penalties.

If you can pay earlier -- in my case, within the next few weeks -- you can send a check with your social security number and the tax year (to make sure it doesn't get applied to next year's taxes by mistake) to the IRS. Depending on the amount you owe and if they have calculated your bill, you may not have to pay any additional penalties or interest.

I should add here that the agent I spoke to was very patient and helpful. I was very impressed with my tax dollars at work and will put a smiley face on the check when I send it in.

Thanks everyone!
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 7:29 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

As an additional bit of possibly helpful info: on several occasions I just sent in my tax forms with a check for some small amount, like $50, along with a note saying: I can't pay the entire amount right now, can you please set up a payment plan for me?

No problem. A couple of weeks later I'd get a form letter with some numbers on it, and then I'd pay up in two or three installments over the next few months.

Even outside of the 120 day penalty-free period, the interest and penalty payments are based on your amount owed. So if you only owe say a couple of hundred bucks or something, the additional charges are pretty negligible, in exhange for a couple of months of breathing room on taxes owed.

Don't sweat it too much if you're short - just send in some small payment with a note and you should be fine.
posted by Aquaman at 8:36 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I do not advocate using credit cards except for this instance - the credit card companies are way way way easier to deal with than the IRS. If you can use one of the official payments providers, the 3% fee is worth it to have the IRS off your back, and depending on your credit card, may have a lower interest rate than the IRS.
posted by bensherman at 9:34 AM on April 15, 2009

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