Is It Possible to Negotiate with the IRS to Lower Back Taxes Owed?

As an Illinois tax attorney, one of the most common questions I receive from clients is whether it is possible to negotiate with the IRS to reduce the amount of back taxes owed. In this post, we will explore the possibilities of negotiating with the IRS and discuss tax debt settlement options that may help alleviate the burden of your tax obligations. Understanding the avenues available for resolving your tax debt is crucial for achieving a favorable outcome while regaining control of your financial situation.

A Tax Attorney Can Negotiate with the IRS

Before delving into negotiation options, it’s important to understand the IRS’s approach to collecting back taxes. The IRS seeks to collect the full amount owed but also recognizes that individuals may face financial hardship. The key is to pay as little as possible to get the maximum result.

One potential negotiation option is an Offer in Compromise (OIC). An OIC allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount owed. However, qualifying for an OIC can be complex, and the IRS carefully evaluates your financial situation.

To qualify for an OIC, you must demonstrate that paying the full amount of your tax debt would cause financial hardship or doubt as to the collectibility of the debt. The IRS considers your income, expenses, assets, and overall ability to pay.

Seeking guidance from a tax attorney experienced in OIC negotiations is highly recommended. They can assess your financial situation, guide you through the process, and present a compelling case to the IRS.

What Are Some Tax Debt Settlement Options?

How about an installment agreement? If you cannot pay your tax debt in full, the IRS offers installment agreements. This option allows you to make monthly payments over an extended period. Negotiating an installment agreement can provide relief and prevent more drastic collection actions.

Seeking Currently Not Collectible status is another option. If you are facing financial hardship and unable to make payments, you may qualify for Currently Not Collectible (CNC) status. CNC status temporarily suspends IRS collection efforts, providing time to improve your financial situation.

Don’t forget penalty abatement: The IRS may consider reducing or eliminating penalties associated with your tax debt. This option is available under certain circumstances, such as reasonable cause or first-time penalty abatement.

Finally, consider Innocent Spouse Relief. If you are facing tax debt due to your spouse’s actions or inaccuracies on a jointly filed tax return, innocent spouse relief can protect you from being held responsible. Seeking assistance from a tax attorney is essential to navigate this relief option.

Working with a tax professional, such as a tax attorney or enrolled agent, can greatly enhance your negotiation efforts. They can help you explore all available options, assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and advocate on your behalf.

Legal Strategies for Effective Negotiation

Accurate and Complete Financial Disclosure are key. When negotiating with the IRS, it is crucial to provide accurate and complete financial information. Transparency helps build trust and strengthens your position for negotiation.

Professional Representation is a must in most cases.. The IRS has lopsided negotiating power over a non-attorney. Knowledge is power. A non-attorney typically lacks negotiating power. Having a tax attorney represent you during negotiations can significantly impact the outcome. They possess the expertise to navigate the complexities of tax laws, communicate effectively with the IRS, and present a compelling case on your behalf.


While negotiating with the IRS to reduce the amount of back taxes owed is possible, it requires careful consideration and professional guidance. Exploring options such as an Offer in Compromise, installment agreements, penalty abatement, or innocent spouse relief can provide avenues for tax debt settlement. As an Illinois tax attorney, I encourage you to consult with a qualified professional to assess your unique situation, evaluate negotiation options, and develop a strategic approach. Remember, effective negotiation with the IRS requires accurate financial disclosure, strong advocacy, and an understanding of the available settlement options. With the right guidance and approach, you can navigate the negotiation process and work towards a favorable resolution of your tax debt.