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What If I Cannot Pay What Taxes I Owe?

May 26, 2014

At the very least, file your tax return and pay as much as you can.

That way you’ll at least avoid failure-to-file penalties of up to 25% of your unpaid taxes—though you may still owe failure-to-pay penalties that can also go as high as 25% of the unpaid balance. Plus, you’ll still likely owe interest on whatever you don’t pay.

These charges add up fast. So if you have access to a low-rate home equity line of credit or credit card, that may be a cheaper option that financing via Uncle Sam – provided you pay off the amount as soon as possible.

If you don’t have any financing options but think you can pay off the amount within 120 days, you can do so by simply making payments as quickly as you can. You will, however, pay interest and applicable penalties until the balance is paid. Can’t pay in that amount of time? You can set up installment agreements with the IRS. You’ll pay a $120 one-time fee ($52 if you use a direct debit from your bank) and interest, but at least you’ll avoid the penalties.

Read next: Here’s What to Do If You Can’t Finish Your Taxes On Time

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