How Much Do I Owe the IRS in Back Taxes?

As an Illinois tax attorney, one of the most common concerns I encounter from clients is regarding the amount of back taxes they owe to the IRS. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore how you can determine the precise amount of your tax debt. Additionally, we will discuss strategies for managing and resolving your back taxes to regain control of your financial situation. Understanding the extent of your tax debt is crucial for developing an effective plan to address your obligations and work towards a fresh start.

How Can I Determine the Amount of My IRS Tax Debt?

To determine the amount of back taxes owed, you need to gather relevant documentation, such as your tax returns, notices from the IRS, and any other records of income, deductions, and credits claimed on your tax returns. Your tax attorney should contact the IRS and obtain tax transcripts.

Thoroughly examine your filed tax returns for each tax year in question. Ensure that you have accurately reported your income, claimed deductions and credits, and properly calculated your tax liability.

In some cases, back taxes result from underreported income. Carefully review your income sources, including wages, self-employment income, rental income, and investment gains, to ensure accurate reporting.

The IRS may apply penalties and interest to your outstanding tax debt. Familiarize yourself with the different types of penalties, such as failure-to-file and failure-to-pay penalties, as well as the interest rates applied to unpaid tax balances.

What Is the Best Way to Resolve IRS Back Taxes?

Once you have determined the amount of your back taxes, it is essential to establish open communication with the IRS. Have your tax attorney respond promptly to any notices or correspondence and keep records of your interactions.

The IRS offers various payment options to help you satisfy your tax debt. These include setting up an installment agreement, requesting a temporary delay of collection, or exploring an offer in compromise to settle for less than the full amount owed.

An offer in compromise (OIC) is an option to settle your tax debt for less than the total amount owed. However, qualifying for an OIC can be complex, and it is advisable to seek the guidance of a tax attorney to navigate the process effectively.

If you are facing financial hardship and unable to make payments, you may qualify for currently not collectible (CNC) status. This status temporarily suspends IRS collection efforts while you improve your financial situation.

If you owe back taxes due to your spouse’s actions or inaccuracies on a jointly filed tax return, you may be eligible for innocent spouse relief. This relief provides protection from being held responsible for the tax debt incurred by your spouse.

Resolving back taxes can be complex, and the guidance of a qualified tax attorney is invaluable. They can help you navigate the options available, negotiate with the IRS on your behalf, and ensure compliance with IRS regulations.

How Do I Prevent Future IRS Tax Debt?

Take proactive steps to ensure future tax compliance, such as keeping accurate records, filing tax returns on time, and promptly paying any taxes owed.

Consult with a tax attorney or tax professional to assess your overall tax situation, identify potential deductions or credits, and develop a personalized tax planning strategy that minimizes your future tax liability.


Determining the amount of back taxes you owe is the first step towards resolving your tax debt and regaining control of your financial situation. By assessing your tax records, understanding penalties and interest, and exploring available options, you can work towards a resolution with the IRS. Remember, seeking the guidance of an experienced tax attorney is crucial to ensure you navigate the process effectively and protect your rights. With proper planning and proactive measures, you can achieve a fresh start and move forward with confidence.