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  • Carlos Vega

Understanding the Power of Offer in Compromise: IRS Pre-Qualifier Misconceptions

As a tax lawyer, one of the most effective tools in helping clients resolve their tax liabilities with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the Offer in Compromise (OIC) program. However, it is not uncommon for individuals to question their eligibility for an OIC based on the results of the IRS pre-qualifier. In this blog, we will explore why an OIC can still be a viable option, even if it initially seems that one does not qualify.

The IRS Pre-Qualifier: Understanding its Limitations

The IRS pre-qualifier is an online tool designed to provide individuals with a preliminary assessment of their eligibility for an Offer in Compromise. It takes into account various factors, including income, expenses, and assets, to determine the likelihood of a successful OIC application. However, it is important to remember that the pre-qualifier is just an initial screening tool and not the final decision. There are many nuances in determining what income and expenses are includible and how exactly to value assets.

Consideration of Special Circumstances

While the IRS pre-qualifier assesses general financial information, it does not take into account specific circumstances that may impact an individual’s ability to pay their tax debt. These special circumstances could include significant medical expenses, job loss, or other extraordinary financial hardships, such as a restriction on access to the equity in an asset. As a tax lawyer, I can help one present these exceptional circumstances to the IRS, demonstrating why an OIC is a fair and reasonable resolution.

Demonstrating Effective Tax Administration

Another avenue to explore is the “Effective Tax Administration” (ETA) option, which falls under the OIC program. ETA considers exceptional circumstances where collection of the tax debt would create an economic hardship or would be unfair and inequitable. If one can demonstrate that paying the full tax liability would cause undue hardship or be unjust, an OIC may still be an option.

Professional Assistance Makes a Difference

Navigating the complex world of taxes and negotiating with the IRS requires expert knowledge and experience. Engaging a tax lawyer can significantly improve the chances of a successful OIC application. As an attorney, I will work closely with a you, analyzing your financial situation, reviewing your options, and representing you effectively before the IRS.


Although the IRS pre-qualifier may suggest that one does not qualify for an Offer in Compromise, it is crucial to remember that this initial assessment is not definitive. By considering special circumstances and utilizing the expertise of a tax lawyer, one can still pursue an OIC, either based on his financial hardship or through the Effective Tax Administration option. Resolving tax debts can be challenging, but with the right approach and professional guidance, a favorable outcome is attainable.

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