It's time to act, not panic. You might have more options than you know — courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service.
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"There are probably more options than most people are aware of," says Abe Schneier, senior technical manager with the American Institute of CPAs. "However, as anything with the IRS, there are limitations to taking advantage of it."
At this late stage, it's important not to put your head in the sand if you will have trouble paying. Ignoring the problem will only get you deeper in debt to the IRS.
Instead, check out these ways to meet your tax liability:
Payment postponement If you meet certain employment and income criteria, you can postpone paying tax bills of up to $50,000 until Oct. 15.
To qualify, you must have been out of work for at least 30 days in a row last year or so far this year. Or you can qualify if you're self-employed and saw your business income plunge by at least 25 percent last year.
Your income can't be more than $200,000 if filing jointly, or $100,000 if you're single or the head of a household.
The IRS also promises to waive the failure-to-pay penalty, which can add up. The penalty is 0.5 percent of the outstanding tax bill each month, not to exceed a total of 25 percent.
You will still have to pay interest — now at an annual rate of 3 percent — and any other penalties you might owe when paying up in mid-October.
To apply for the postponement, file Form 1127A.
"You have to qualify for it; it's not automatic," Schneier says. "The IRS will notify you if the application is not approved."
Barbara Weltman, author of "J.K. Lasser's 1001 Deductions and Tax Breaks," adds: "You still have to file your return. This just gives you more time to pay."
To get an extra six months to file, you must also request an extension, Weltman says.
Installment agreement The IRS recently made it easier to pay your tax bill on an installment plan.
Now those who owe up to $50,000 won't have to provide the agency with a burdensome financial statement. (Owe more, though, and you must file the paperwork. Or you can pay part of your tax liability to get under the $50,000 threshold and use the more streamlined process, the IRS says.)
Another bit of leniency: You now have the option of paying the tax over six years instead of five.
Request an installment agreement by filing Form 9465. Payments must be made by monthly debits from your bank account.