IRS Form 656-B: Instructions for Requesting an Offer in Compromise

IRS Form 656

When you cannot pay your taxes owed in full, but you do have some resources from which to make payments toward your taxes owed, you may choose to apply to the IRS for an Offer in Compromise (OIC).

You can also apply for an Offer in Compromise if paying your entire tax amount owed would cause you economic hardship, would be unfair or inequitable, or because you have insufficient assets and income to pay the full amount of the taxes owed.

An Offer in Compromise allows you to settle your taxes owed with the IRS for an amount that is less than the full amount that you owe.

Basic Guidelines for Requesting an OIC

To request an Offer in Compromise from the IRS, you must fill out and submit IRS Form 656-B. It is highly recommended you work with a tax professional as the process is not easy.  The IRS OIC booklet includes Form 656, Form 433-A (OIC) which is for individuals, and Form 433-B (OIC) which is for businesses. This is when your offer is based on doubt as to collectibility or effective tax administration.

To complete your application on the former basis, you must pay a $186 non-refundable application fee as well as a payment toward your taxes. The amount of your initial payment may vary. You have the option of paying either:

  • 20% of the initial offer amount with your application, with the offer amount to be paid in full once the IRS accepts your offer, or
  • initial monthly payment, which you continue to pay each month while the IRS considers your application, as well as after the IRS accepts your offer. Generally, the payment period is from 6 to 24 months or when the CSEDs expire, whichever comes first.

However, if you meet the Low-Income Certification guidelines of the IRS, you will not need to pay the $186 application fee or make an initial monthly payment until the IRS accepts your offer. After the IRS accepts your offer, you must then begin making payments toward your compromised taxes.


Completing Form 656

In order to complete Form 656, you will need to gather certain information about the taxes, interest, and penalties that you owe, as well as the tax years or periods for which you owe those taxes.

Section 1: Your Contact Information

This section of Form 656 asks for basic contact information for you, your spouse and/or your business, including names, addresses, social security numbers, and employer identification numbers.

Section 2: Tax Periods

Choose the type of tax, tax return(s), and tax period(s) that you are including in your application for an Offer in Compromise. If you need more room than provided on the form, you can attach an additional page or pages, which you should title “Attachment to Form 656 dated ____________.”

Section 3: Reason for Offer

Select one of the following two options as the reason for your Offer in Compromise:

  • Doubt as to Collectibility (insufficient assets and income to pay)
  • Exceptional Circumstances (paying taxes owed would cause economic hardship or would be unfair and inequitable)

If you choose the “Exceptional Circumstances” option, you must include a written statement explaining your exceptional circumstances to the IRS. You also should attach any documentation of your circumstances. For instance, if you have a serious illness that impairs your ability to work and causes you extensive medical expenses, you could attach medical reports and bills in order to help prove that you have a serious illness.

Section 4: Low Income Certification (Individuals Only)

Only individuals, not businesses, can complete this section of Form 656. You must evaluate your family size, geographical location, and your applicable monthly gross household income in order to determine whether you qualify for low-income certification.

If you qualify for low-income certification according to the IRS guidelines, then you will not have to pay the Offer in Compromise application fee, and you may not have to make a payment toward your taxes while the IRS is in the process of considering your application.

Section 5: Payment Terms

In this section, you first must provide the IRS with the amount of your total offer of payment toward our taxes owed. You then have two different payments options from which to choose:

  • Payment Option 1 – Payment of offer in five or fewer monthly payments
    • You must include a check for 20% of your offer amount, unless you are an individual and eligible for low-income certification.
    • You also must fill in the dates and amounts of your future payments.
  • Payment Option 2 – Payment of offer in more than five monthly payments
    • You must include a check for the amount of one monthly payment, unless you are an individual and eligible for low-income certification.
    • You also must fill in the amount of your monthly payment, the day of the month on which you will make your payment, and the total number of months that you will make payments in order to pay off your order amount.
    • You must continue to make the monthly payments while the IRS is considering your application for an Offer in Compromise.

Section 6: Designation of Down Payment and Deposit (Optional)

This section of Form 656 is optional for you to complete. If you wish, you can have the payment included with your application applied to a specific tax amount from a specific tax year. You can also pay more than your required initial payment, and have that amount designated as a deposit on your Offer in Compromise.

Section 7: Source of Funds

In this section, you must describe the source of the funds that you will use to make payments toward your taxes owed, whether it is money that you have borrowed from family or friends, a bank loan, or the proceeds from selling your property.

Section 8: Offer Terms

There is no information for you to provide in this section of Form 656. Rather, this section sets forth all of the terms and conditions of making an Offer in Compromise. More specifically, this section details all of your rights and responsibilities with respect to making an Offer in Compromise and the consequences of failing to meet the requirements of an Offer in Compromise.

Section 9: Signatures

In this section, you must sign and date Form 656 under oath. If you are filing an Offer in Compromise jointly with your spouse, he or she must also sign and date the form.

Section 10: Paid Preparer Use Only

This section is to be completed only if you are using a paid preparer for your Offer in Compromise application.

Section 11: Third Party Designee

In this section, you can authorize the IRS to discuss your Offer in Compromise application with another person whom you designate.

Submitting Form 656 to the IRS

Once you have completed Form 656, you must submit it to the IRS with the rest of your application packet, including Form 433-A or Form 433-B, your application fee, and your initial payment fee. The IRS then will consider your Offer in Compromise application and determine whether you are entitled to pay your offer amount rather than the full amount of your taxes.

Getting Help with IRS Form 656

Completing and getting form 656 accepted is not an easy task for someone without experience. It is suggested to consult with an OIC tax professional when doing this type of filing to increase your chances. A tax professional can also analyze your situation and make a determination if you are a good candidate for an offer in compromise. If you are, they can help with the filing.

If you aren't, they can suggest other alternatives such as applying for separation of liability if your ex-spouse was responsible for the issue. Here at TaxCure, we have a unique ranking algorithm that allows you to find the top professionals based upon specific problems and solutions you are looking for. To see the top-rated tax professionals that can help with an offer in compromise, visit this link here for top-rated IRS offer in compromise experts, or start your search below.


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