When a taxpayer requests an installment agreement for larger tax liabilities or proposes an offer in compromise, the IRS applies allowable expense standards. Total allowable expenses include those expenses that meet the necessary expense test. The necessary expense test is defined as expenses that are necessary to provide for a taxpayer’s and his or her family’s health and welfare and/or production of income. The expenses must be reasonable. The total necessary expenses establish the minimum a taxpayer and family needs to live and serve as the basis for granting installment agreements and offers in compromise.
Over the years the IRS offer in compromise program has been the subject of a great deal of criticism by Congress, the National Taxpayer Advocate and taxpayer representatives. The new initiative represents the most dramatic liberalization of IRS settlement policies ever announced. It represents a welcome change from an agency which has always placed substantial roadblocks to those seeking to compromise their tax obligations.