Can’t Afford To Pay Your Taxes To The IRS? Here’s What To Do

crying woman holding an empty wallet

This won’t help you on tax day. | Source: ShutterStock

April 15 is, uh, now, and it’s time to pay your taxes to the IRS. But what happens if you really can’t afford to pay all your taxes to Uncle Sam? Don’t freak: You have a few options.

Before you do anything else, double-check your math on your returns. The biggest and most frequently made mistake on tax returns is just crappy math. Look over your numbers and have a calculator or a pal handy to check again after that. A misplaced decimal or zero makes a big difference.

Still owe more than you can afford right now? Consider these:

Find creative ways to pay in full to pay the least amount.
Paying in full really is the best option, because penalties and interest add up. If you have an emergency fund, some savings you can dip into, unpaid time off that you can cash out, debts from others you can call in, do it.

Pay as much as you possibly can by April 15, then contact the IRS for an extension.
The more you pay up front, the less you’ll end up owing in interest. After filing and paying what you can afford, hit up the IRS directly and let them know your situation. They may end up giving you a short-term extension if you only need to get your next paycheck to cover the balance.

Establish a monthly payment plan.
This really isn’t ideal, because you’re going to owe interest and penalties, but if you can’t afford to pay a lump sum, this may be good for you.

Prove financial hardship.
This surely isn’t easy, and it’s very rare, but if you can provide evidence of some sort of extreme financial hardship to the IRS, they may offer a compromise.

Don’t use a credit card for your payments!
The interest rates will be a lot higher on a credit card than paying the IRS directly by check.

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