I am on a payment plan with the IRS but find I cannot pay. What should I do?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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It is important that you contact IRS as soon as you become aware that you can’t make a particular payment or that for any reason you cannot continue the payment plan as it was originally structured. IRS makes a distinction between taxpayers making a sincere effort to pay their debt and taxpayers who show little or no evidence of cooperation. The IRS may modify the plan, suspend it temporarily, or work through the problem with you. But failure to communicate with the IRS can lead to a defaulted payment agreement, which could trigger forced collection action (e.g., tax liens, wage levies).

The IRS also must give you at least 30 days notice of its intent to modify or terminate the payment plan along with an explanation as to why the agreement is being modified or terminated.

For more information, read our section on “Tax Enforcement“.

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