Tax debt can weigh heavily on anyone’s financial stability and peace of mind. The IRS Fresh Start Program, an initiative designed to help financially distressed individuals and businesses settle their tax liabilities, can be an essential lifeline. However, applying for this program is not without its challenges, and it is quite common for taxpayers to make mistakes that might hinder their eligibility or success in obtaining tax relief.
Today, we’ll be examining seven common mistakes taxpayers often make when applying for the IRS Fresh Start Program, and how to avoid them.
Not Understanding The IRS Fresh Start Program
The first common mistake is simply not understanding what is IRS Fresh Start Program and how it operates. The Fresh Start Program is an initiative by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to aid struggling taxpayers who are unable to fully pay off their tax debts.
The program facilitates tax debt repayment through three primary strategies: installment agreements, offers in compromise, and tax lien withdrawal. By not fully understanding the scope and mechanics of the program, taxpayers might either misuse it or overlook the benefits it could provide, which might then result in a failed application or unoptimized benefits.
Ignoring The Criteria And Eligibility
Like any other government program, the Fresh Start Program has specific eligibility criteria that taxpayers need to meet.
For example, the offer in compromise requires that you be up-to-date with all filing and payment requirements, among other things. Ignoring these criteria and rushing to apply without ensuring you meet them is a common mistake that leads to application denial.
Misjudging Your Financial Situation
To accurately assess your ability to repay your tax debts, the IRS uses a detailed financial analysis including your income, expenses, and asset equity.
Misjudging or misrepresenting your financial situation can significantly impact your application’s success. Therefore, it’s important to carefully evaluate your finances and provide accurate and truthful information.
Not Filing All Necessary Forms
The IRS requires you to fill out specific forms for different programs under the Fresh Start initiative. For instance, Form 9465 is required for installment agreement applications, while Form 656 is for an offer in compromise. Failing to fill out or submit all necessary forms can lead to delays or denial of your application.
Mishandling The Appeal Process
If your application to the Fresh Start Program is initially rejected, you have the right to appeal the decision.
However, many taxpayers either fail to take advantage of this opportunity or mishandle the process by missing deadlines or not providing sufficient supporting documentation. Understanding the appeal process can be critical in ensuring that a rejection doesn’t mark the end of your Fresh Start journey.
Trying To Navigate The Process Alone
Tax laws and regulations are notoriously complex, and trying to navigate the Fresh Start application process without professional help can be overwhelming. Many taxpayers make the mistake of not seeking help from a tax professional or attorney. These professionals can provide guidance, help you understand the process, and increase your chances of success.
Neglecting Future Tax Obligations
Finally, some taxpayers who successfully enroll in the Fresh Start Program make the mistake of neglecting their future tax obligations. Remember, the program is a means to help you get back on track.
It’s essential to stay current with your future tax obligations to avoid falling back into a similar predicament.
Applying for the IRS Fresh Start Program can be a complex process, but it’s an opportunity for taxpayers to resolve their tax debts and move toward financial stability. Understanding the common mistakes made during the application process, and how to avoid them, can significantly increase your chances of successfully enrolling in the program and taking full advantage of its benefits.