Options for Consumers Who Can’t Afford Their Tax Payments

April 15 is finally here, and that means for some of us the stress if finally over, and for others it’s just beginning (I’m looking at you, extension filers). But for a small percentage of consumers, tax stress goes far beyond April 15 and whether they file in time. For this group, the real stress has to do with affording the taxes they owe. This financial burden can be challenging to sort out, and affected consumers are likely not aware of all the resources available to them. Let’s take a closer look at the best options for handling these situations.

The Importance of Taking Action

We all know how complicated taxes can be, and there might not be a quicker way to get a throbbing headache than by reading through a few lines of tax code. That said, one of the worst things any taxpayer can do is throw in the towel and give up entirely. Instead of letting frustrations lead to inaction, consumers should look into helpful resources, such as the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Here’s a quote about the TAS, taken from the IRS website:

“The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is your voice at the IRS. Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly, and that you know and understand your rights. We can offer you free help with IRS problems that you can’t resolve on your own. We know this process can be confusing, but the worst thing you can do is nothing at all!”

Working with the Taxpayer Advocate Service

The Taxpayer Advocate Service can offer assistance to you if your tax issue is creating financial difficulty for you, your family, or your business; you or your business is facing immediate adverse action; or you have tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but have not received a response.

To get started with the TAS, you need to contact your nearest TAS office. Your state will have at least one Advocate who works independently from the IRS and can work on your behalf. Check out the map on the IRS website, or call 1-877-777-4778 to learn more.

Other Taxpayer Resources

Here at Clearpoint, we point our clients to a wide variety of nonprofit resources, depending on their needs. Here are a few we typically recommend to clients with various tax concerns.

Legal Services Corporation

If you have tax questions with legal implications that are better directed to an attorney than an accountant, this resource might be for you. Similarly, if you are facing a threat of adverse legal action form the IRS, this might help. The Legal Services Corporation is “the single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans in the nation” and may be able to put you in touch with someone who can work with you.

IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers

These centers give you the opportunity to speak face-to-face with an IRS representative about your tax situation and ask any questions you might have. These centers don’t require appointments, so you can just walk in. Here’s a summary of services offered at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers.

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)

Do you need help with the actual preparation of your tax returns? As we’ve said this can be complicated and require you to weed through complex jargon. Luckily this program through the IRS offers free tax help for low- to moderate-income individuals who cannot prepare their own tax returns for whatever reason. Learn more about The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

Want more help?

Tax time is always stressful but the rest of your financial year shouldn’t be. If you ever need more help with your budget and managing your expenses, or if you need a plan to handle high-interest credit card debt, we are here to help. Be sure to read about our free budget and credit counseling for more information.

Thomas Bright is a longstanding Clearpoint blogger and student loan repayment aficionado who hopes that his writing can simplify complex subjects. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him hiking, running or reading philosophy. You can follow him on Twitter.

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