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 stores coming to Tyrone Square Mall, like Bath & Body Works


    Tyrone Square Mall will welcome a half dozen new stores, like Bath & Body Works and MidiCi's The Neapolitan Pizza Company, this summer.

  2. Target Corp. reaches $18.5 million settlement with 47 states over data breach


    Target Corp. has agreed to pay Florida $928,963 out of a newly-announced $18.5 million settlement over a huge data breach that occurred in late 2013.

    Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have reached an $18.5 million settlement with Target Corp. to resolve the states' probe into the discounter's massive pre-Christmas data breach in 2013. 
[Associated Press]
  3. Gov. Rick Scott's family history of alcohol abuse could decide 'liquor wall' bill


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott must decide Wednesday whether to let Walmart and other big-box stores sell liquor, and he says a factor in his decision is the history of alcohol abuse in his family.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a veto of a bill that would allow Walmart, Target and other big box retail stores to sell liquor. [Andres Leiva | Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021


    TAMPA — Record rainfall in Los Angeles ultimately may end Tampa Bay's drought of hosting the Super Bowl.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 

Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  5. As St. Petersburg's Jabil Circuit broadens its business, it shrinks its name to Jabil


    St. Petersburg's Fortune 500 company, Jabil Circuit, informally tossed aside the "Circuit" in its name some time ago. That's because circuit board manufacturing, the company's core business for decades, has been squeezed out by a broader business agenda ranging from consumer packaging to supply chain management.

    Jabil Circuit informally dropped "Circuit" from its marketing material and signage, like at its St. Petersburg headquarters, years ago. Now it's official.
[Times file photo]