An Offer in Compromise (OIC) allows taxpayers to settle their tax debts for less than the full amount they owe. It can be a viable option for those unable to pay their full tax liabilities due to financial hardship, insolvency, or other exceptional circumstances. This guide provides practical tips for navigating this process.


The IRS Offer in Compromise program provides taxpayers who owe more taxes than they can afford an opportunity to settle their debts. However, not everyone qualifies for this relief, and understanding how to approach the process can increase your chances of success.

Understanding the Offer in Compromise

1. Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for an OIC, you must demonstrate that paying the full amount would create financial hardship, doubt as to the liability, or there are compelling reasons the IRS considers allowing you not to pay in full.

Key Points:

2. Reasons for the Offer

The IRS can accept an OIC for three reasons:

Steps to Prepare Your Offer in Compromise

  1. Check Your Eligibility: Use the IRS Pre-Qualifier tool to see if you might qualify for an OIC.
  2. Understand the Costs: There is a $205 application fee (waived for low-income certification), and you must include a nonrefundable initial payment with your application.
  3. Submit Accurate Information: Fill out all required forms accurately. Errors can lead to rejection.
  4. Offer a Reasonable Amount: Your offer should reflect your real ability to pay. Use the IRS’s formula to determine an appropriate offer: (Your monthly disposable income x 12) + (Your assets’ quick sale value).
  5. Provide Documentation: Include all required supporting documents to substantiate your income, expenses, and asset equity.

Tips for Successful Negotiations

  1. Be Honest and Transparent: Full disclosure is necessary. The IRS is more likely to negotiate if they believe you are honest.
  2. Stay Organized: Keep copies of all documents submitted and received from the IRS.
  3. Communicate Effectively: Respond promptly to IRS requests for additional information.
  4. Be Patient: The process can take time. Continue to stay on top of your current taxes during negotiations.
  5. Consider Professional Help: A tax professional who specializes in OIC can provide valuable assistance.


Navigating an Offer in Compromise requires understanding the process, meeting criteria, and negotiating honestly and effectively. By preparing properly and following these tips, you can enhance your chances of settling your tax debts in a way that is manageable for you.