Mitigating Tax Stress: How IRS Hardship Applications Offer Peace Of Mind

Life has its fair share of stresses. From daily obligations to unplanned setbacks, navigating life’s ups and downs can be taxing, quite literally. The anxiety experienced from receiving a letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is incomparable. Thoughts of penalties, interest, and possibly legal repercussions can be paralyzing. But there’s a little-known solace for taxpayers in genuine distress: the IRS hardship application. 

The intention of this piece is to shed light on these provisions and share how they can potentially offer you peace of mind.

1. Understanding The IRS’ Perspective On Financial Hardship

The IRS, often painted as the big bad wolf, does have provisions to help taxpayers in real need. Surprising to many, the agency does not solely exist to penalize. They also offer financial hardship options for those genuinely struggling.

The premise is simple: If paying your tax debt would cause a significant and undue economic hardship, the IRS might consider putting your account in the “Currently Not Collectible” status. This means they acknowledge your inability to pay and will temporarily halt collection efforts. 

However, this doesn’t mean your tax debt is erased. Instead, it provides breathing room and an opportunity to reorganize.

2. Qualifying Circumstances For Hardship

Not every challenging financial scenario will qualify for IRS hardship. There are specific circumstances that the IRS considers. These include:

  • Unemployment or significant loss of income.
  • Medical emergencies or debilitating health conditions.
  • Natural disasters that resulted in substantial property damage.
  • Experiencing personal catastrophes such as divorce or death of a primary income earner.

It’s essential to provide documentation and evidence supporting your claim to show genuine hardship.

3. Filing The Appropriate Forms

The primary form for asserting a hardship is Form 433-F, Collection Information Statement. This form provides the IRS with an in-depth view of your financial situation, from income to expenses and assets. It’s pivotal to fill out this form accurately and thoroughly to give the IRS a complete picture of your predicament.

Other forms might be required depending on individual circumstances. Consulting a tax professional can offer guidance tailored to your situation.

4. The Temporariness Of The Relief

It’s crucial to understand that being labeled “Currently Not Collectible” is not a permanent status. The IRS reviews these cases periodically. Should your financial situation improve significantly, they may restart the collection process. 

Additionally, during the time your account is in this status, interest and penalties on the owed amount continue to accumulate.

5. Potential Downsides

While achieving a “Currently Not Collectible” status offers immediate relief, there are potential downsides:

  • Accumulation of Penalties and Interest: As mentioned, interest and penalties keep accruing.
  • Tax Refunds: If you are due any tax refunds in subsequent years, the IRS can and will seize them to apply against your debt.
  • Public Record: A tax lien might be filed against you, which becomes a matter of public record and can harm your credit.

Knowing these can help you make an informed decision and weigh the pros and cons of applying for hardship status.

6. Exploring Other Alternatives

If you believe the hardship application may not be right for you or if you do not qualify, there are other IRS programs to consider:

  • Installment Agreements: Allows taxpayers to pay their debt in monthly installments.
  • Offer in Compromise: An agreement to settle your tax debt for less than the owed amount.
  • Temporary Delay: The IRS may temporarily delay collection if you cannot pay due to a short-term setback.

Engaging a tax professional can help navigate these alternatives and choose the best fit.


Life’s unpredictability can be daunting, especially when facing financial hurdles intertwined with tax obligations. However, the IRS, contrary to popular belief, does have provisions for taxpayers in genuine distress. The hardship application can offer temporary relief, granting peace of mind and space to breathe. While it comes with its own set of pros and cons, knowing about it and understanding its intricacies can equip you with another tool in your financial arsenal. 

Remember, it’s always wise to consult with tax professionals to guide you through these waters and ensure that you’re making informed decisions tailored to your unique situation.


Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply