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Settlement vs. Payment Plan: Weighing Your Tax Relief Options

Dealing with tax debt can be overwhelming, but the IRS offers various tax relief options to help individuals and businesses regain financial stability. Among the most common choices are settlement payments vs. IRS payment plans, also known as installment agreements. In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of each option, enabling you to make an informed decision regarding your tax relief strategy. Let’s dive into the differences between settlement and payment plans and discover which option may work best for your unique financial situation.

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Will the IRS Take a Settlement Payment?

Settlement payments, also referred to as an Offer in Compromise (OIC), allow eligible taxpayers to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount owed. While this option can be appealing, it’s essential to understand that not all taxpayers will qualify for an OIC. The IRS carefully evaluates each application based on specific criteria, such as the taxpayer’s ability to pay, income, expenses, and asset equity. Seeking the guidance of a tax professional can improve your chances of success with a settlement payment.

What is the Best Way to Settle a Debt with the IRS?

The best way to settle a tax debt with the IRS depends on your financial situation and eligibility for tax relief programs. For some taxpayers, a settlement payment through an OIC may be a viable option to significantly reduce their tax liabilities. However, for others, an installment agreement may be a more practical solution. An installment agreement allows taxpayers to pay off their tax debt in smaller, manageable monthly installments over time.

What are the Disadvantages of the IRS Payment Plan?

While an IRS payment plan provides an opportunity to pay off tax debt in installments, it does come with some disadvantages. One significant drawback is the accrual of penalties and interest on the remaining tax debt while the installment agreement is in place. Additionally, the IRS may place a federal tax lien on your property until the debt is fully paid off, potentially impacting your credit score and borrowing ability.

Is an IRS Installment Agreement Worth It?

Despite its drawbacks, an IRS installment agreement can be worth considering for taxpayers who do not qualify for a settlement payment or cannot afford a lump sum payment. By adhering to the terms of the installment agreement, you can make steady progress toward resolving your tax debt without the immediate financial strain of paying the full amount upfront. However, it’s essential to weigh the interest and penalties incurred against your ability to pay off the debt within a reasonable timeframe.


When seeking tax relief with the IRS, understanding the differences between settlement payments and payment plans is vital to making an informed decision. While settlement payments offer the potential for significant debt reduction, not all taxpayers will qualify. On the other hand, an IRS installment agreement can provide a manageable path to resolving tax debt over time, but it comes with some disadvantages. Carefully assess your financial situation and eligibility for tax relief programs to determine which option aligns best with your needs. If unsure, consult a tax professional to navigate the complexities of IRS tax relief and set a course for a more secure financial future.

You can click here or call (800) 875-5509 to be connected with a verified partner of IRS Fresh Start Initiative.

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