Make us your home page

Even if you can't pay what you owe, file a form, IRS advises

NEW YORK — The IRS will make you an offer, and it's one you shouldn't refuse.

If you owe taxes, but don't have the money to pay the bill by today's deadline, you'll find some sympathy at the Internal Revenue Service.

"There's a big issue this year with people who can't pay," said Martin Press, a tax lawyer with Gunster Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale.

One reason is that the unemployment spike and still-struggling economy have resulted in more people pulling money out of individual retirement accounts and 401(k) plans. Now they have to pay taxes and penalties on those withdrawals.

But the IRS will work with you if you're in that spot. That is, if you take the right steps.

First, file your return: If you can't pay your tax bill, you'll face penalties and interest charges. The late payment penalty is one-half of 1 percent of any tax not paid by April 15. That translates to a $25 penalty if you owe $5,000. It is charged each month or part of a month the tax goes unpaid, up to 25 percent, or $1,250 on that $5,000. The interest, currently 4 percent, is compounded daily. The fine for not filing is 5 percent per month, or $250 for $5,000 due. It's also capped at 25 percent. If you don't have the time to finish your return, file for an extension to avoid the failure-to-file penalty. If you can pay part of your bill, do so, because the charges apply only to the unpaid balance.

Don't pay taxes on credit: The interest rate on your credit card is likely higher than the 4 percent interest rate the IRS will charge, so it makes more sense to work out a deal with the government than to charge your taxes.

Set up an installment plan: If you owe less than $25,000, you can request an installment plan online at You can also print the form and send in a request by mail.

You'll get another chance to ask for an installment agreement if you wait for a letter from the IRS seeking your payment.

There's a $105 fee for setting up the agreement, or $52 if the payments are deducted directly from your bank account. Installment plan payments are based on what you earn, not how much you owe, Press said. The IRS will work with you on a deal that doesn't bust your budget.

Seek professional guidance: The IRS offers to settle tax debts for less than what's owed in some situations. Press said taxpayers should avoid these deals, called "offers in compromise," until they've discussed them with a tax professional. One drawback is, they can extend the 10 years the IRS has to collect any taxes due by however long the agency spends reviewing the offer.


Today is the deadline to mail federal tax returns.

Post offices in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties will stick to their normal schedules, but offices in these counties plan extended hours.


. Forest Hills Station, 11800 N Florida Ave. Mail collection until 8:30 p.m.

. Carrollwood Branch, 12651 N Dale Mabry Highway. Mail collection until 8:45 p.m.

. Town 'N Country Branch, 7521 Paula Drive. Mail collection until 9 p.m.

. New Tampa Station, 16350 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. Mail collection until 8 p.m.

. Tampa Main Post Office (airport), 5201 W Spruce St. Drive-through dropoff and full retail service until midnight.


. Clearwater Main Post Office, 100 S Belcher Road. Full retail service until 6 p.m. Drive-through dropoff until 8 p.m.

. St. Petersburg Main Post Office, 3135 First Ave. S. Full retail service until 8 p.m. Drive-through dropoff until midnight.


. Lakeland Main Post Office, 2800 Lakeland Hills Blvd. Full retail service available until 8 p.m. Mail deposited until midnight will receive an April 15 postmark.

Even if you can't pay what you owe, file a form, IRS advises 04/14/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 15, 2010 7:07am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus


    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.

  2. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park


    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  3. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers


    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  4. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]
  5. Cooking passion spurs owner to pull open AJ's Kitchen Drawer


    TAMPA — After graduating from the University of Tampa in May 2016, AJ Albrecht spent four months traveling around Southeast Asia and Australia.

    AJs Kitchen Drawer offers a wide variety of unique kitchenware items, such as handcrafted knives and wooden items, as well as local gourmet products. Photo by Danielle Hauser