So, something in life or business didn’t go according to plan, and now you’re faced with an IRS tax liability. While few people relish being a collection target of America’s most formidable creditor, there may be a silver lining. You may have options which could significantly reduce the amount that you have to pay the
The Currently Not Collectible Status (“CNC”) is a status that the IRS can grant to individuals or businesses whom it has determined are unable to repay their delinquent taxes. Internally, the IRS sometimes refers to Currently Not Collectible Status as “Status 53.”
Although penalties and interest will continue to accrue on the unpaid taxes, the IRS generally will not take enforcement action such as bank levies, wage levies (garnishments), seizure of assets, and accounts receivable levies while a taxpayer’s account is in CNC status. However, the IRS will very likely file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien for liabilities in excess of $10,000 (if it hasn’t already) prior to granting CNC status.
The IRS has a laundry list of reasons why it might place a taxpayer into CNC, most of which aren’t applicable to a business or individual who is actively looking for relief from the IRS (taxpayer is deceased, business entity is defunct or bankrupt, unable to locate taxpayer, etc.).
For the rest of us — operating businesses and living individuals who haven’t vanished — obtaining CNC status will require two things:
- The taxpayer must be in compliance with all current tax obligations (e.g. all tax returns have been filed, current tax obligations are being paid); and
- The taxpayer must demonstrate, usually via full financial disclosure, that it is able to pay current tax obligations, but unable to pay anything towards the tax debt. For individuals, this means that the individual will not be able to meet their necessary living expenses while repaying anything toward their tax liability. For businesses, this means that the business will not be able to meet its necessary business expenses while also repaying anything toward its tax liability.
Advantages of CNC
- The taxpayer can live without fear of IRS enforced collection action; and
- The taxpayer will not be required to make any payments whatsoever towards their back tax liability to the IRS while they are in CNC status; and
- Taxpayers who succeed in staying in CNC status until the IRS’s Collection Statute of Limitations expires (typically 10 years from the date the tax was assessed) can have a tax liability go away without ever having to pay anything towards it.
Disadvantages of CNC
- Qualifying for CNC can be challenging—the IRS will often demand payment even when an individual or business thinks they are too broke to pay anything; and
- It is not a “permanent” solution, meaning that the IRS may periodically review the taxpayer’s financial condition and remove a taxpayer from CNC status if it deems fit. If a taxpayer’s financial condition improves, the IRS may remove the taxpayer from CNC status and require payment. If the IRS requests updated financial information and the taxpayer fails to provide it, the IRS may remove the taxpayer from CNC status and proceed with enforcement.
Attorneys vs Accountants
Which is Best for You?
Benjamin Franklin once said that nothing is certain in this life but death and taxes. I’ll agree that none of us will cheat death. But I may quibble with Mr. Franklin on the issue of whether or not you have to pay all of your taxes. Under the right set of circumstances, full payment of
If you owe taxes, but just can’t make a payment, don’t despair, there may be a solution for you in Currently Not Collectible status. Your chances will only increase if you hire a qualified tax resolution professional (not your local accountant, they usually lack experience and expertise in working tax collection cases) to guide you