Resolving Back Taxes: Understanding Your Options and the Importance of Tax Attorneys

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Resolving Back TaxesTaxpayers who owe back taxes to the IRS often face a daunting and complex challenge in navigating the resolution process. Unresolved tax liabilities can lead to severe consequences, such as financial penalties, wage garnishments, and asset seizures. However, addressing your back taxes and seeking the guidance of an experienced tax attorney can help you regain tax compliance and alleviate the burden of mounting tax debt.

In this comprehensive blog post, we will provide you with an in-depth look at the options available for resolving back taxes, including payment plans, Offers in Compromise, penalty abatement, and more. We will also discuss the potential consequences of ignoring back tax issues and emphasize the critical role of tax attorneys in supporting taxpayers throughout the resolution process, ensuring the best possible outcome.

Furthermore, we will explore strategies for maintaining tax compliance after resolving back taxes to prevent future liabilities and promote financial well-being. With expert guidance from tax attorneys, you can navigate the challenges of resolving back taxes and protect your financial future from the risks associated with unresolved tax liabilities.

Options for Resolving Back Taxes

Numerous options are available to taxpayers who want to resolve their back taxes. The optimal strategy depends on your specific financial situation and outstanding tax liabilities. Common resolution methods include:

  1. Payment Plans and Installment Agreements
    The IRS offers payment plans, or installment agreements, to taxpayers who cannot pay their tax debt in full. A payment plan allows you to pay your back taxes over a set period with monthly payments that fit your budget. Various types of installment agreements are available, depending on the size of your tax debt and your financial circumstances.
  2. Offers in Compromise (OIC)
    An Offer in Compromise is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. The IRS will consider an OIC if there is doubt about the collectibility of the tax debt, doubt about the taxpayer’s liability, or if full payment would create a financial hardship. Submitting an OIC requires thorough documentation and careful negotiation, but successful OICs can lead to substantial tax savings.
  3. Penalty Abatement
    The IRS may impose penalties on taxpayers for various reasons, such as late filing or underpayment of taxes. Penalty abatement is a form of tax relief that removes or reduces penalties imposed by the IRS. You can request penalty abatement if you can show reasonable cause for not complying with tax obligations, such as a natural disaster or severe illness.
  4. Innocent Spouse Relief
    A spouse may be held responsible for erroneous tax liabilities resulting from a joint tax return in certain circumstances. Innocent spouse relief can protect the innocent spouse from being held accountable for the other spouse’s tax liability. Qualifying for innocent spouse relief requires meeting specific criteria, including proving that the spouse requesting relief did not know or have reason to know about the tax liability.

Consequences of Unresolved Back Taxes

Ignoring back taxes can lead to various adverse consequences, further exacerbating financial difficulties. Some potential consequences of unresolved back taxes include:

  1. Financial Penalties
    The IRS may assess penalties and interest on unpaid, underpaid, or late-filed taxes, which can significantly increase your tax debt over time.
  2. Notices and Liens
    The IRS will send repeated notices reminding you of your outstanding tax liabilities. Failure to address your back taxes can result in a tax lien being placed on your property. A tax lien gives the IRS a legal claim to your property, making it difficult to sell or refinance your assets.
  3. Levies, Garnishments, and Seizures
    If your tax debt remains unpaid, the IRS may take more aggressive collection measures, such as levying bank accounts, garnishing wages, or seizing assets like property and vehicles. These collection actions can have a devastating impact on your financial stability.

The Importance of Tax Attorneys in Resolving Back Taxes

Consulting with a tax attorney is crucial when addressing back taxes. Tax attorneys can provide invaluable assistance during the resolution process, offering various benefits, including:

  1. Expert Knowledge
    Tax attorneys have extensive knowledge of tax laws and IRS procedures, ensuring that you understand your options and choose the most suitable resolution strategy.
  2. Successful Negotiations
    Tax attorneys can negotiate with the IRS on your behalf, helping you secure favorable terms for payment plans or Offers in Compromise. Their expertise in tax law and negotiation tactics increases the likelihood of a successful resolution.
  3. Protection of Rights
    Tax attorneys can protect your rights as a taxpayer throughout the resolution process, preventing the IRS from taking inappropriate or overly aggressive collection actions.
  4. Minimizing Legal Risks
    By seeking the counsel of a tax attorney, you can minimize the risk of potential legal issues that may arise from improperly addressed back taxes, such as tax evasion or fraud.

Maintaining Tax Compliance after Resolving Back Taxes

After resolving your back taxes, it is essential to maintain tax compliance to avoid future liabilities. Some strategies for maintaining tax compliance include:

  • Review your withholding and estimated tax payments to ensure they are accurate and sufficient. Applying appropriate withholding allowances and making timely estimated tax payments can prevent underpayment of taxes.
  • Prepare and file your tax returns on time each year, even if you cannot pay your tax balance in full. Filing your returns prevents penalties for late filing and opens the door to potential payment plans or other resolution options.
  • Keep accurate and up-to-date financial records, ensuring timely and accurate tax filings. Proper recordkeeping can also provide essential documentation if you need to negotiate with the IRS or request penalty abatement.
  • Seek professional tax advice for complex tax situations or substantial changes in your financial circumstances. Enlisting the support of a tax attorney or accountant can help you navigate tax changes and maintain compliance.


Addressing back taxes is essential to protect your financial well-being and achieve peace of mind. By understanding the options available to resolve your tax liabilities and enlisting the support of a skilled tax attorney, you can navigate the complexities of tax resolution with confidence. Maintaining tax compliance following a successful resolution will help prevent future liabilities and promote financial stability.

Are you struggling with back taxes and seeking expert guidance on resolving your tax liabilities? Contact our team of experienced tax attorneys at Segal Cohen & Landis for a free consultation. We’ll help you understand your options, develop a tailored resolution strategy, and support you on your journey toward financial freedom.

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Segal, Cohen & Landis will help you successfully resolve challenging federal and state tax problems including back taxes, audits, wage garnishments, and levies. We will negotiate your offer in compromise or installment agreement. Our IRS tax attorneys will take you through the resolution process to achieve your best possible outcome.