Sometimes seniors find themselves owing past-due federal taxes they cannot afford to pay. Although notices from the IRS can be especially frightening, there are solutions.
If the sum owed is less than $50,000, the IRS will accept monthly payments over five years. For example, if $6,000 is owed to the IRS, monthly payments of around $100 can be made. There are also laws in place that provide that persons unable to pay their taxes can be placed on Currently Not Collectible (CNC) status with the IRS and not have to pay their past-due income taxes. The IRS is generally very understanding and helpful towards seniors with lower incomes applying for currently not collectible status.
Seniors with especially low incomes can often obtain CNC status by simply phoning the IRS at the number on an IRS collection notice. You can ask the collector to file “53” on your case, which means filing IRS form 53 (only a collector or IRS official can do this). You will not need to file detailed financial paperwork. For example, a senior with a monthly income of $1,200 and rent of $600 obviously will have no extra income to pay any past-due taxes.
However, you may be asked to complete a financial form that shows you do not have any surplus income after paying necessary monthly living expenses. This form, IRS 433-A, can be found here.
Although it is rarely done, the IRS can garnish 15 percent of a senior’s Social Security for past-due income taxes. However, this garnishment will never happen without the senior being first notified. The IRS will almost never garnish pensions and other retirement income.
Tips on Applying for Uncollectible Status
Here are some guidelines and requirements for applying for CNC status: