What If I Owe And I Can’t Pay?

Every year about this time, we get the panicked calls. “I owe and I can’t pay! I need to file an extension!”

An extension is going to give you extra time to file, not extra time to pay. If you owe, IRS wants you to pay by April 15th. Even people who file an extension are expected to send in a payment with it if they are going to owe.

If you find you owe more than you can pay with your tax return, here are your options.

Make sure to file on time. That way you won’t have a penalty for filing late. The penalty for faling to file a return on time is much higher than the penalty for not paying right away.

If you can’t pay all your taxes by the due date:

  1. File on time and pay as much as you can. This will reduce interest charges and any late payment penalty. You can pay online, by phone, or by check or money order. Visit IRS.gov for electronic payment options.
  2. Get a loan or use a credit card to pay your tax. The interest and fees charged by a bank or credit card company may be less than IRS interest and penalties. For credit card options, see IRS.gov. There is a charge to pay your taxes with a credit card, it’s usually between two and three percent of the total due.
  3. Use the Online Payment Agreement tool. You don’t need to wait for IRS to send you a bill before you ask for a payment plan. The best way is to use the Online Payment Agreement tool on IRS.gov. You can also file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, with your tax return. You can even set up a direct debit agreement. With this type of payment plan, you won’t have to write a check and mail it on time each month. It also means you won’t miss payments that could lead to more penalties.
  4. Don’t ignore a tax bill. If you get a bill, don’t ignore it. The IRS may take collection action if you ignore the bill. Contact the IRS right away to talk about your options. If you are suffering a financial hardship, the IRS will work with you.

In short, remember to file on time. Pay as much as you can by the tax deadline and pay the rest as soon as you can.  Finally, talk to your tax professional about how to adjust your withholding and payments to make sure this doesn’t happen again next year!