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E-Pay Options Available to People Facing April 17 Deadline; Penalty Relief for Unemployed Taxpayers; Expanded Payment Plans for Those Who Can’t Pay
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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that 2011 federal income tax returns, extension requests and tax payments are due by April 17, 2012. For people unable to pay their taxes in full by that date, payment agreements and other relief are usually available and can even be requested online.
Taxpayers will avoid late filing penalties if they file either their income tax return or a request for a tax-filing extension by midnight on Tuesday. The late-filing penalty, normally five percent per month based on the unpaid balance, applies to returns filed after the deadline. Taxpayers should file, even if they can’t pay the full amount due.
Any payment made by April 17 will reduce or eliminate interest and late-payment penalties that apply to payments made after that date. The current interest rate is three percent per year, compounded daily, and the late-payment penalty is normally 0.5 percent per month.
Whether paying tax in full or in part, the fastest and easiest way to do so is by using one of the electronic payment options. E-pay options include:
• Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). This free service gives taxpayers a safe and convenient way to pay individual and business taxes by phone or online. To enroll or for more information, call 800-316-6541 or visit eftps.gov.
• Electronic funds withdrawal. E-file and e-pay in a single step.
• Credit or debit card. Both paper and electronic filers can pay their taxes by phone or online through any of several authorized credit and debit card processors. Though the IRS does not charge a fee for this service, the card processors do. For taxpayers who itemize their deductions, these convenience fees can be claimed on Schedule A Line 23.
Taxpayers who choose to pay by check or money order should make the payment out to the “United States Treasury.” Write “2011 Form 1040,” name, address, daytime phone number and Social Security number on the front of the check or money order. To help insure that the payment is credited promptly, also enclose a Form 1040-V payment voucher.
In many cases, those struggling with unpaid taxes qualify for one of several relief programs, including those recently expanded under the IRS "Fresh Start" initiative. These include the following:
• Most people can set up a payment agreement with the IRS on line in a matter of minutes. Those who owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest can use the Online Payment Agreement to set up a monthly payment agreement for up to six years. Taxpayers can choose this option even if they have not yet received a bill or notice from the IRS. Alternatively, taxpayers can request a payment agreement by filing Form 9465-FS. This form can be downloaded from IRS.gov and mailed along with a tax return, bill or notice.
• Most unemployed filers and self-employed individuals whose business income dropped substantially can apply for a six-month extension of time to pay. Eligible taxpayers will not be charged a late-payment penalty if they pay any tax, penalty and interest due by Oct. 15, 2012. Taxpayers qualify if they were unemployed for any 30-day period between Jan. 1, 2011 and April 17, 2012. Self-employed people qualify if their business income declined 25 percent or more in 2011, due to the economy. Income limits and other special rules apply. Apply using Form 1127-A.
• Some struggling taxpayers may qualify for an offer-in-compromise. This is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. Generally, an offer will not be accepted if the IRS believes the liability can be paid in full as a lump sum or through a payment agreement. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to make a determination regarding the taxpayer’s ability to pay.
Details on all filing and payment options are on IRS.gov.
If you owe tax with your federal tax return, but can't afford to pay it all when you file, the IRS wants you to know your options and help you keep interest and penalties to a minimum.
Here are five tips:
1. File your return on time and pay as much as you can with the return. These steps will eliminate the late filing penalty, reduce the late payment penalty and cut down on interest charges. For electronic and credit card options for paying see IRS.gov. You may also mail a check payable to the United States Treasury
2. Consider obtaining a loan or paying by credit card. The interest rate and fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be lower than interest and penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code.
3. Request an installment payment agreement. You do not need to wait for IRS to send you a bill before requesting a payment agreement. Options for requesting an agreement include:
4. Request an extension of time to pay. For tax year 2011, qualifying individuals may request an extension of time to pay and have the late payment penalty waived as part of the IRS Fresh Start Initiative. To see if you qualify visitwww.irs.gov and get form 1127-A, Application for Extension of Time for Payment. But hurry, your application must be filed by April 17, 2012.
5. If you receive a bill from the IRS, please contact us immediately to discuss these and other payment options. Ignoring the bill will only compound your problem and could lead to IRS collection action.
If you can’t pay in full and on time, the key to minimizing your penalty and interest charges is to pay as much as possible by the tax deadline and the balance as soon as you can. For more information on the IRS collection process go to or see IRSVideos.gov/OweTaxes.
If you owe taxes but can’t pay the full amount by the April 17 deadline you should still file your return on time and pay as much as you can to avoid penalties and interest. You should also contact the IRS to ask about alternative payment options. Here are three alternative payment options you may want to consider:
1. Additional Time to Pay Based on your circumstances, you may be granted a short additional time to pay your tax in full. A brief additional amount of time to pay can be requested through the Online Payment Agreement application at http:www.IRS.gov or by calling 800-829-1040. Taxpayers who request and are granted an additional 60 to 120 days to pay the tax in full generally will pay less in penalties and interest than if the debt were repaid through an installment agreement over a greater period of time.
2. Installment Agreement You can apply for an IRS installment agreement using the Web-based Online Payment Agreement application on IRS.gov. This Web-based application allows taxpayers who owe $25,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest to self-qualify, apply for, and receive immediate notification of approval. You can also request an installment agreement before your current tax liabilities are actually assessed by using OPA. The OPA option provides you with a simple and convenient way to establish an installment agreement and eliminates the need for personal interaction with IRS and reduces paper processing. You may also complete and submit a Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, make your request in writing, or call 1-800-829-1040 to make your request. For balances over $25,000, you are required to complete a financial statement to determine the monthly payment amount for an installment plan. For more complete information see Tax Topic 202, Tax Payment Options on http.www.IRS.gov.
3. Pay by Credit or Debit Card To pay your Federal taxes by credit or debit card, you can use all major cards (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa). For information on paying your taxes electronically, including by credit or debit card, go to www.irs.gov/e-pay and contact one of the service providers at its telephone number or Web site listed below and follow the instructions. There is no IRS fee for credit or debit card payments, but the processing companies charge a convenience fee or flat fee. If you are paying by credit card, the service providers charge a convenience fee based on the amount you are paying. If you are paying by debit card, the service providers charge a flat fee of $3.89 to $3.95. Do not add the convenience fee or flat fee to your tax payment.