Washington As the nation sinks deeper into recession, the IRS is offering to waive late penalties, negotiate new payment plans and postpone asset seizures for delinquent taxpayers who are financially strapped, but make a good-faith effort to settle their tax debts.
IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said Tuesday that tax agents are being given new authority to work with victims of the nation’s economic woes who are struggling to pay their bills.
It’s unrealistic to expect some taxpayers to make timely payments in this economy, Shulman said. However, he cautioned that those seeking help will have to demonstrate their inability to pay. Those who fail to file tax returns, or who simply ignore collection notices, will not be eligible for help, he said.
With the filing season for 2008 tax returns opening this week, the IRS expects to process 250 million returns over the next few months, including 130 million from individuals.
The new leniency program is geared toward people who have paid their taxes in the past, but who are now having facing a financial hardship.
Since the start of the recession last December, the economy has shed 1.9 million jobs, and the number of unemployed people has increased by 2.7 million — to 10.3 million now out of work.