IRS Offer in Compromise – A Review of Eligibility Guidelines

We get a number of calls inquiring about the IRS Offer in Compromise Program. While an IRS Offer in Compromise is a very effective tax settlement option for a very well defined group of taxpayers, it is definitely not the optimum solution for anyone with an unresolved tax debt. The acceptance criteria for an Offer in Compromise are very specific, the application process is lengthy and the rejection rate can be high. Amazingly the IRS can also take up to two years from the date it receives the initial application to accept or reject an Offer in Compromise. With this timeframe in mind, it is often advantageous to enlist professional help when considering this tax settlement option. An experienced tax settlement professional will be able to determine whether the taxpayer meets the strict IRS qualification criteria and, following that determination, will ensure that the Offer in Compromise application is submitted according to published IRS guidelines. Utilizing a qualified CPA or tax professional can drastically reduce the rejection rate because the preliminary work to qualify you as an applicant and to appropriately complete the forms is done for you.

Not sure if you qualify? The primary components necessary to obtain a successful Offer in Compromise tax settlement are outlined below:

  • The taxpayer must meet one of the three eligibility criteria specified by the IRS. Those three criteria are

1) doubt as to whether the taxpayer is liable for the tax debt

2) doubt as to whether the taxpayer has the means to pay the tax debt

3) a determination that settling the tax debt would promote effective tax resolution.

Since the Offer in Compromise allows a taxpayer to settle a tax debt for less than the full amount owed, the IRS only accepts applications that adhere strictly to theses acceptance criteria.

  • The taxpayer’s eligibility must be adequately documented. Sufficient documentation to support one of the three eligibility criteria is required. This documentation may include tax returns and other financial records, disability claims and records of medical treatment and hospitalization, among other things
  • The total amount of the tax debt must be accurate. This means that the taxpayer must be current in submitting tax returns. All previously submitted returns must be checked for accuracy and refiled when necessary.
  • The Offer in Compromise application must have been submitted according to specific IRS guidelines. All of the necessary forms included with the application must be complete and all required fees and supporting documentation must be included.

Once an Offer in Compromise application is submitted, the IRS will begin its review process. During this time additional information and supporting documentation will be requested when necessary. The review process usually takes anywhere from six to twelve months but can take a maximum of two years. If the application is not officially accepted or rejected within two years, the IRS is required to accept the offer.

If you have an unresolved tax debt, visit us today at for more information about our customized tax settlement assistance. With over 16 years of experience working with the IRS, our experienced professionals will help you determine which available tax settlement option best meets your specific needs. Contact us by phone at (877) 889-6527 or by email at to learn more about our services and to receive a free, no obligation consultation