IRS Offer in Compromise: Explained

Dealing with tax debt can be a challenging and overwhelming experience for many individuals and businesses. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognizes this and offers a program called the Offer in Compromise (OIC), providing taxpayers with an opportunity to settle their tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of the IRS Offer in Compromise program, guiding you through the process, eligibility requirements, application procedures, and tips for success.

What is an IRS offer in compromise?

An IRS Offer in Compromise is a program that allows taxpayers to settle their tax debt with the Internal Revenue Service for less than the full amount owed. This paragraph is designed to help individuals and businesses facing financial hardship or exceptional circumstances pay their tax liabilities when they are unable to do so in full. Through this program, eligible taxpayers can propose an amount they can afford to pay, based on their financial situation, and the IRS may accept the offer as a resolution to their tax debt.

How to apply for an IRS offer in compromise

Applying for an IRS Offer in Compromise (OIC) can be a complex process, but with careful preparation and attention to detail, you can navigate through it successfully. 

  1. 1. Check Eligibility: Ensure you meet OIC criteria, filed required tax returns, and made estimated tax payments for the current year.
    2. Calculate RCP: Determine the maximum amount the IRS believes they can collect from you based on your financial situation.
    3. Gather Documentation: Collect financial documents such as bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, and expense records to support your offer.
    4. Complete IRS Forms: Fill out Form 656 and relevant financial disclosure forms (433-A for individuals, 433-B for businesses) with accurate information.
    5. Submit Fee and Initial Payment: Include a non-refundable application fee and an initial payment towards your offer amount.
    6. Provide Supporting Statement: Write a detailed statement explaining your financial hardship and the reason for your inability to pay the full tax debt.
    7. Submit Your Offer: Send completed forms, documentation, fee, and payment to the appropriate IRS office.
    8. Await IRS Review: The IRS will review your offer and may request additional information.
    9. Negotiate if Necessary: If your offer is deemed too low, negotiate with the IRS for an acceptable settlement.
    10. Comply with Terms: If your offer is accepted, follow the IRS terms, including timely filing and paying taxes for the next five years.
    By following these steps and being diligent throughout the process, you can navigate the IRS Offer in Compromise successfully. 

Who qualifies for an IRS offer in compromise?

Eligibility for an IRS Offer in Compromise (OIC) is determined on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Financial Hardship: Individuals or businesses facing genuine financial hardship, where paying the full tax debt would cause undue economic hardship, may qualify for an OIC.
  1. Doubt as to Liability: If there is a genuine dispute regarding the existence or amount of the tax debt, the taxpayer may be eligible for an OIC based on doubt as to liability.
  1. Doubt as to Collectibility: If the IRS determines that it is unlikely to collect the full amount owed, they may accept an OIC. This is based on the taxpayer’s ability to pay and reasonable collection potential (RCP), which considers assets, income, expenses, and future earning potential.
  1. Effective Tax Administration: In exceptional cases, even if the taxpayer can afford to pay the full tax debt, the IRS may consider an OIC based on effective tax administration. This applies when collecting the tax debt would cause an undue hardship or would be unfair.
  1. Tax Compliance: To be eligible for an OIC, taxpayers must have filed all required tax returns and made all necessary estimated tax payments for the current year.
  1. Bankruptcy Filers: Taxpayers who have filed for bankruptcy may qualify for an OIC, but they must meet additional requirements and follow specific procedures.

Decoding the IRS Decision-Making Process for Offer in Compromise Acceptance

The IRS evaluates an Offer in Compromise Organisation of Islamic Cooperationon a case-by-case basis and considers various factors to determine whether to accept it. The key considerations include the taxpayer’s ability to pay, reasonable collection potential (RCP), and the taxpayer’s compliance with tax laws. 

The IRS reviews the financial information provided by the taxpayer, including assets, income, expenses, and future earning potential, to assess their ability to pay the tax debt. They also calculate the RCP, which is the maximum amount the IRS believes they can collect from the taxpayer. If the proposed offer amount is deemed to be equal to or greater than the RCP, it is less likely to be accepted.

Additionally, the IRS considers the taxpayer’s compliance history, including timely filing and payment of taxes. If the taxpayer has demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance, it may impact the acceptance of the offer. Other factors such as the taxpayer’s financial hardship, exceptional circumstances, and equity considerations may also be taken into account. Ultimately, the IRS aims to determine whether accepting the offer is the most they can expect to collect within a reasonable period.

Exploring Further Aspects of IRS Offers in Compromise

Temporary Suspension of Collection Activities

When a taxpayer submits an OIC, the IRS generally suspends most collection activities, including wage garnishments, bank levies, and asset seizures, while the offer is being evaluated. This provides temporary relief during the OIC review process.

Statute of Limitations

The submission of an OIC extends the statute of limitations for the IRS to collect the tax debt. This means that the IRS has additional time to review the offer and make a decision, and the clock stops running until a decision is made.

Appeal Rights

If the IRS rejects an OIC, the taxpayer has the right to appeal the decision. The appeal process involves providing additional information or presenting arguments to support the offer. It’s crucial to carefully follow the instructions provided by the IRS for initiating an appeal.

Non-Refundable Payments

Payments made with an OIC application, including the application fee and initial payment, are generally non-refundable. Even if the offer is ultimately rejected, these payments will not be refunded.

Effect on Tax Liens

If a federal tax lien has been filed against the taxpayer, it generally remains in place during the OIC process. However, the IRS may consider lien subordination or withdrawal in certain circumstances.

Continuing Tax Compliance

If an OIC is accepted, the taxpayer must fulfill certain obligations, including timely filing and paying taxes for the next five years. Failure to comply with these terms may result in default and reinstatement of the original tax debt.

Professional Assistance

Considering the complexity of the OIC process, it is highly recommended to seek professional assistance from a tax professional, enrolled agent, or tax attorney. They can provide guidance, help with the preparation of documentation, and improve your chances of a successful OIC application.

It’s important to note that the IRS has the discretion to accept or reject an OIC, and not all offers are approved. Understanding the intricacies of the process and seeking professional guidance can significantly increase the likelihood of a successful resolution of your tax debt through an OIC.


In conclusion, the IRS Offer in Compromise (OIC) program provides a potential pathway for taxpayers burdened by tax debt to find relief. By proposing a reduced amount that they can afford to pay, taxpayers may be able to settle their tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. However, the OIC process is complex, and eligibility requirements must be met. Seeking professional assistance and understanding the IRS’s evaluation criteria are crucial for a successful OIC application. Although the acceptance of an offer is not guaranteed, an OIC provides those who qualify with the opportunity for a fresh start and the resolution of their tax debt burdens.