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How The IRS Fresh Start Program Can Help Struggling Taxpayers

Getting a call from the tax man – the IRS – is never something we look forward to. It’s almost always bad news on the other line, especially if (like millions of Americans) we’ve fallen a little behind on our taxes.

Luckily for you, though, it’s become a lot easier to work with the IRS these days than ever before with programs like the Fresh Start.

Below we dig a little deeper into the ins and outs of this program, how it works, and whether or not it might work for you!

IRS Fresh Start 101

The IRS Fresh Start is a set of initiatives and tools designed to help taxpayers who are struggling to pay their taxes. It includes a range of options that may be available to taxpayers who are unable to pay their tax debts in full, such as payment plans, offers in compromise, and temporary hardship relief.

Some of the key features of the Fresh Start include:

  • Expanded Eligibility for Installment Agreements: Under the Fresh Start, the IRS has made it easier for taxpayers to qualify for an installment agreement, which allows them to pay their tax debt over time.
  • Increased Flexibility for Payment Plans: The Fresh Start arrangement also includes a bunch of options for payment plans, including short-term payment plans of 120 days or less and long-term payment plans of more than 120 days.
  • Streamlined Offer in Compromise Process: The Offer in Compromise (OIC) program allows Americans the chance to settle out the debt they owe to the IRS (often much, much) less than the full dollar amount that they are responsible for. And all they have to do is show that they are unable to pay the total amount. The Fresh Start program includes several changes to the OIC process that make it easier for taxpayers to qualify for the OIC program and to get their offers accepted.
  • Penalty Relief: The Fresh Start program includes several options for relief from penalties and interest, which can help taxpayers who are struggling to pay their tax debts get back on track.

All in all, this arrangement is designed to help taxpayers who are facing financial difficulties to pay their tax debts and avoid further actions, such as liens or levies, from the IRS. If you are struggling to pay your taxes, you may be able to leverage the Fresh Start program to get the help you need.

Who Can Take Advantage of This Program?

The IRS Fresh Start program is available to all taxpayers who owe taxes to the IRS and are struggling to pay their tax debts. To be eligible for the program, you must meet certain requirements, including:

  • You must owe taxes to the IRS, either as an individual or a business
  • You must be current with your tax returns. If you have not filed all required tax returns, you will need to do so before you can participate in the Fresh Start program.
  • You aren’t in an active bankruptcy proceeding.

If you can qualify for these requirements, you may be eligible to participate in the Fresh Start program and take advantage of the options and tools it offers to help you pay your debts.

It is important to note, however, that the Fresh Start program is not a guarantee that you will be able to resolve your tax debt or avoid enforcement actions from the IRS.


The program is intended to provide taxpayers with options and flexibility to help them pay their taxes and get back on track, but it is ultimately up to the IRS to decide whether to accept any offers or agreements made through the program.

Closing Thoughts

When you get right down to it, if you’re finding yourself in a tight spot with the IRS it never hurts to bring up the idea of leveraging the Fresh Start program.

This program, after all, was instituted by the IRS to help people get back on track, to make it easier for folks to meet their financial obligations without burying their financial future, and to find ways to make settling their tax debt much easier (and headache free) going forward.

Ask about the Fresh Start the next time the IRS calls.

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