How To Pay Your Back Taxes

tax-payDo you owe overdue tax money to the IRS and want to get right? What to do will depend on your situation — do you have the money to pay off what you owe or not?

First, if you are already behind on your taxes, you should have a bill from the IRS telling you the payoff amount. If you do not have a bill, see this page to start the process of finding exactly what you owe.

If you do have the money to pay off all of your back taxes, you can pay in the following ways:

  • Online: Go to to pay electronically or by credit card (note there is an extra fee for credit card payments).
  • By Mail: There are different IRS payment addresses for different states. Go here to find the right one for you. Make sure your check is made out to US Treasury and include a copy of your bill, plus your name, address, daytime phone number, Social Security Number, tax period, and form number (for example, 2015 Form 1040).

Now, if you don’t have the money to pay off your back taxes, you still want to pay as much as you can as soon as you can, and work with the IRS on a plan to eventually get it all paid off.

The first thing to do is make sure all of your tax forms are filed, even if you can’t pay the taxes due.

Next, see which of these situations you are in and proceed as described:

Can you pay in 120 days?

If you can come up with the full amount you owe within 120 days of the original due date, you may be able to set up a Full Payment Agreement. Call the IRS at 800-829-1040 (individuals) or 800-829-4933 (businesses) to see about setting this up. Note that you’ll still pay interest and penalties, but it may be minor in comparison to letting this tax liability sit too long.

Can you pay in installments?

If you could pay a portion of your back taxes each month, could you eventually get to a zero balance? If you think you could, apply via the Online Payment Agreement or download and mail in the Installment Agreement Request, — you should then receive further instruction from the IRS. (You will supply the IRS with the amount you feel confident you could pay each month, though ultimately it is up to them to decide.)

Can you not pay the full amount, or not pay at all?

If you know you can’t pay the amount due anytime soon, or that paying it will cause too big of a hardship due to having low income, you have two options:

  • Propose an Offer In Compromise (OIC), which is basically an agreement to pay a lesser amount than you owe and be done. This sounds good, but you should know it will only be accepted in extreme circumstances when your income and assets are too low for the IRS to believe it can collect all that is due. Use this OIC Pre-Qualifier to see if you may be able to go this route.
  • Request a Temporary Delay In Collections, which may be granted if you have a short-term hardship that is stopping you from paying even though your long-term finances may allow you to pay in the future. You will need to call the IRS to discuss this option at one the following phone numbers: 800-829-1040 (individuals) or 800-829-4933 (businesses).