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The truth about tax debt forgiveness

“Tax forgiveness” may sound like an ideal concept, but in truth full and complete tax forgiveness simply out of financial hardship is not realistic. In most cases tax forgiveness is not a tangible solution for eliminating your tax liability.

That being said, there are certain situations where the IRS may forgive all or part of a taxpayer’s liability for certain tax debt.

Assess your tax forgiveness eligibility

The three situations outlined below are potential paths that can be taken to achieve full or partial forgiveness of your tax liability. If you think you may be eligible for one of these options, speak with a tax debt resolution team to see if you qualify.

Professional assistance is typically advisable for tax debt, particularly if you owe a large amount or have limited means to repay what you owe due to financial hardship.

3 situations for full or partial tax forgiveness


#1: Innocent Spouse

This is one of the few situations where you can personally qualify for full forgiveness of a particular tax debt that’s owed to the IRS. You must prove that your spouse incurred liability from tax return errors that you had no part in and no reason to know about.

The tax debt isn’t forgiven completely, but liability for it is placed on the person who is really responsible. As a result, it’s forgiven from your standpoint because you are no longer liable for the amount owed.

#2: Offer in Compromise

This option provides partial tax debt forgiveness. The IRS agrees to accept a reduced amount instead of the full amount of back taxes owed. You must submit a full financial disclosure and only a fraction of OIC applications are accepted. The IRS will only accept an Offer in Compromise they see this is the maximum amount they can reasonable expect to collect.

#3: Penalty Abatement

This does not forgive the principal tax debt that you owe. However, it can forgive penalties and interest applied to your debt. If you can prove “reasonable cause” for not filing or not paying your debt, then penalties applied may be forgiven. Interest applied to those penalties is also removed, which reduces the amount you owe. This is known as penalty abatement.