How Long Do You Have To Pay The IRS If You Owe Taxes?

When taxpayers owe money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), this is known as owing taxes. The consequences of not paying taxes on time can range from simple fines and penalties to more extreme measures, depending on how much money is owed and why it was not paid on time. It's essential to comprehend the consequences of owing taxes and be aware of your available payment possibilities to prevent more serious repercussions.

Payment Options

Individuals who owe taxes to the IRS have several payment options available to them. They can pay with a credit card, debit card, check, or money order. Taxpayers can also make arrangements with the IRS for a payment plan if they are unable to pay the full amount due at once.

Payment plans are available online or by calling the IRS directly, requiring taxpayers to submit an installment agreement request form. The IRS will then review the taxpayer’s financial information and set up an appropriate payment plan.

What Are The IRS Payment Plans?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) payment plans allow taxpayers to pay off their balance over a designated period of time, rather than in one lump sum payment. These payment plans are beneficial for individuals who owe taxes but are experiencing hardship in paying their tax dues. The IRS offers several options for payment plans to accommodate different financial situations.

Below, we discuss various IRS payment plans, including their features, eligibility criteria, and benefits.
1. Short-Term Payment Plans
Short-term payment plans, also known as full payment agreements or agreements in 120 days or less, allow taxpayers to payoff their tax dues within 180 days. To be eligible for a short-term payment plan, the taxpayer must owe $100,000 or less in combined tax, penalties, and interest.

Benefits and Facts:

- No setup fees for taxpayers applying online.
- Taxpayers can pay through Direct Debit (from checking/savings accounts), credit/debit cards, checks, or money orders.
- Penalties and interest will continue to accrue until the total balance is paid off.

2. Long-Term Payment Plans (Installment Agreements)
Long-term payment plans, also known as installment agreements, allow taxpayers to payoff their tax dues in monthly installments over a period exceeding 180 days. There are two types of installment agreements: Direct Debit Installment Agreements (DDIA) and Individual Payment Plans.

a. Direct Debit Installment Agreements (DDIA)
DDIAs automatically debit a specified amount from a taxpayer's bank account each month to pay their tax dues.

Eligibility Criteria:
- Owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties, and interest
- All required tax returns have been filed
- No other installment agreements in the previous five years (this requirement may be waived in certain cases)

Benefits and Facts:
- The failure-to-pay penalty rate is reduced.
- Lower setup fees when applying online
- Less risk of default or missed payments

b. Individual Payment Plans

Individual payment agreements are for taxpayers who do not qualify for the DDIA or prefer paying through other methods such as credit/debit cards, checks, or money orders.

Eligibility Criteria:
- Owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties, and interest
- All required tax returns have been filed

Benefits and Facts:
- More flexibility in payment methods
- Provides an extended period to pay off tax dues
- Penalties and interest will continue to accrue until the total balance is paid off, albeit at a reduced rate.

3. Offer in Compromise (OIC)

An Offer in Compromise (OIC) is a program that allows taxpayers to settle their tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed if they can prove genuine financial hardship or inability to pay the full tax amount.

Eligibility Criteria:

- Must have filed all required tax returns
- Must have received a bill for at least one of the tax debts included in the OIC
- Cannot be in an open bankruptcy proceeding

- Taxpayers must submit a detailed financial statement and supporting documents to prove their inability to pay.
- The IRS evaluates each OIC on a case-by-case basis, considering various factors, including income, assets, and expenses.
- The OIC process can be lengthy and may require negotiations with the IRS.

The IRS offers various payment plans to accommodate taxpayers facing financial hardships or seeking flexibility in paying their tax dues. Taxpayers are encouraged to explore these options and choose the most appropriate plan based on their financial situation and eligibility criteria. It is always better to communicate with the IRS and negotiate a suitable plan rather than risk accruing penalties and interest on unpaid taxes.

How Long Does The IRS Have To Collect Tax Debt From Taxpayers?

In the United States, taxpayers who owe money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) often wonder how long the IRS has to collect a tax debt. This time period is referred to as the statute of limitations, and it plays a crucial role in determining the legal rights and obligations of both the IRS and taxpayers. Understanding this time frame and its implications is essential for those who owe taxes or might face such issues.

The Statute of Limitations for Collecting Federal Tax Debts

The primary thought to consider is that the IRS has a time limit on collecting tax debts, typically 10 years from the assessment date. This means that the IRS legally has a decade to collect any taxpayer's unpaid taxes, penalties, and associated interest. This 10-year period is known as the Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED). After this time limit has passed, the IRS is required to cease any collection activities, and the taxpayer's tax debt is considered legally unenforceable.

What the Statute of Limitations Means for Taxpayers

The statute of limitations on collecting tax debts provides some protection for taxpayers. It ensures that there is a finite time frame during which the IRS can pursue collection actions. However, taxpayers should not consider the statute of limitations as an escape route from paying their tax debts since the IRS is generally diligent in exercising its collection powers within the specified time frame.

It is crucial for taxpayers to be aware of the statute of limitations and the factors that might affect it. Proactive communication and cooperation with the IRS can facilitate a resolution to tax-debt issues more quickly and potentially avoid additional penalties or interest. Understanding the statute of limitations ultimately empowers taxpayers to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions concerning their federal tax debts.


Understanding how long you have to pay the IRS when you owe taxes is crucial and depends on various factors. Seeking assistance from a tax adviser or the IRS is essential if you need guidance concerning payment plans and due dates. Proper management of taxes can help reduce tax dues, increase fiscal discipline, and improve your savings. The IRS provides several opportunities for taxpayers to comply with debt payments. It is crucial to stay on top of deadlines and regulations and take responsibility for your taxes. 2023 © - All Rights Reserved