Most small business owners struggle to manage their taxes and other accounting functions. Usually, you must accomplish many roles with limited staff, and so non-immediate administrative functions take a back burner in the face of operational crises.
The IRS doesn’t care about the demands on the plate of a small business owner, only that you fulfill your obligations on time and in full. Otherwise, you risk accruing many penalties, fines, and interest on back taxes.
If you ever find that your small business owes overdue taxes, follow these steps to get back into the IRS’s good books and keep your business from losing valuable funds. The thing to remember is that the IRS doesn’t want to have to close your business.
Therefore, you can take certain steps to make things right and keep your business running. Here’s what you should do:
1. Stay in Touch
You must be proactive about contacting the IRS if you haven’t filed or paid taxes on time. Even if the agency goes quiet, they will always come back – and often at an inopportune time for you. Meanwhile, your interests and fines keep increasing, and they may create a debt so big your business can’t afford to pay it.
Note that the IRS has massive legal powers to collect overdue taxes. They can take almost anything you own and freeze your assets without needing a court order. They can also close down your operations and seize assets to pay off the tax debt.
2. Take Advantage of Time
Because the IRS is one agency managing thousands of businesses, you can take advantage of time, which is on your side if you act right away. Often, you’ll receive computerized tax bills followed by phone calls. Only if you ignore these will a person be assigned to your case.
From the time you notice there’s a lapse in your taxes, notify the IRS (or respond to their notification) and always cooperate. Provide the financial information that IRS collectors ask for – you should never lie to the IRS, but be careful not to disclose too much. Only provide the information they have asked for, unless you have been served with a formal summons.
3. Negotiate for a Discount or Payment Plan
In most instances, the IRS allows business owners to pay overdue taxes in monthly instalments. The only downside is that interests and penalties continue to accrue on the outstanding amounts. If you are able to make a single payment, you can also ask for a discount on the total amount owed.
About 25 percent of businesses are successful in applying for the Offer in Compromise through the OIC process. This is a lengthy formal process that allows businesses in a precarious financial situation to apply for the IRS to accept a fraction of the tax they owe.
When the IRS assesses your application and believes that they won’t collect more in future, they will agree to the Offer in Compromise to settle your tax debt.
4. Request for “Uncollectible” Status
If your business is in dire shape, you can request the IRS to temporarily place your account under the “Uncollectible” status. If they agree, they will stop collection notices for some time. However, you will still owe the penalties and tax by the end, and interest will accrue for the period the account is “uncollectible”.
In the direst circumstances, you may have to file for bankruptcy. This is a complex and complicated legal process that must only be a final resort. In some cases, it can wipe out your tax debt, but this comes at a high price. Always consult a tax debt agency before filing for bankruptcy.
5. Seek Professional Assistance
Once you find out that you owe overdue taxes, your best move is to consult tax debt professionals. A tax debt agency can help you assess your financial situation and the taxes you owe and advise you on the best cause of action. Professional tax preparer s in the team can also file and negotiate on your business’s behalf with the IRS.
Once you sort your back taxes, prioritize tax payments in future and ensure you file your returns in time.