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What Happens When You Don’t Have Enough Money to Pay Your Taxes?

— June 8, 2023

In most cases, the government will simply allow the individual or business to pay their outstanding debt over time.

Long Beach, CA – One of the most common tax problems that most people fear is simply not having enough money to pay what they owe to the IRS. While making arrangements to pay taxes later or over time is usually not a big deal as long as taxes are filed properly, some people can get into additional trouble or end up paying fines if they are not careful. Lawyers are an important resource for anyone who has significant issues with their taxes. They can provide specific advice to the person during an initial meeting and throughout the person’s tax issues. 

Filing taxes as required

The general advice for people who do not have enough to satisfy their tax debt is to continue to file their taxes on time and report all income and other information such as deductions and expenses honestly. Long Beach tax lawyers and other professionals can assist at a later time once the documents are sent to the government and they know what the person owes. In most cases, the government will simply allow the individual or business to pay their outstanding debt over time, even if there is an additional cost in late fees or interest. 

Negotiating settlements

California tax lawyers often negotiate with the government to settle a person’s tax debt. This is sometimes called an offer in compromise. It is usually a best case scenario for a person when the government settles and agrees to take less than the total amount outstanding in order to close out the case and move on. If the tax lawyers can successfully do this, it often ends up being a significant source of savings for individuals who are seriously behind on their taxes. 

Avoiding criminal charges

Gavel; photo by Sora Shimazaki from
Gavel; photo by Sora Shimazaki from

It is tempting for some people to be able to pay their taxes by filing in a way that appears as if there is much less money owed to the government. However, in some cases this can become fraud or tax evasion if the government can prove that the person intentionally tried to mislead them to pay a smaller amount. Dishonesty should always be avoided in documents filed with the government, as the person needs to agree under penalty of various criminal charges that they are truthful in any statements or forms that were sent with taxes. 

Consequences for other finances

Estate planning lawyers can also be beneficial for those who think things like their investments, trusts, or other assets may be compromised by their inability to pay taxes. It is important that the government can seize various types of property and assets if they think that will be the only way to satisfy the person’s debt. 

Advice from a local legal professional can help with the process to find local lawyers in any state. People who need a referral to a licensed attorney in their area can call 800-672-3103.

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