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How Filing Tax Extensions Works

Income Tax Installment Arrangements

Protesting the IRS won't save you from your income tax obligations.
Protesting the IRS won't save you from your income tax obligations.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

You set up payment plans on cars, houses and other expensive pieces of property. You can do the same thing with federal income taxes. The IRS calls this plan an installment agreement.

If you can't pay the total amount of income tax you owe, you can file Form 9465 to break the unpaid amount into monthly installments.


Like Form 4868, Form 9465 is not very complicated. The information you need to provide consists of:

  • your contact information, including Social Security numbers for you and your spouse (if applicable)
  • contact information for your bank
  • contact information for your employer
  • the amount you owe
  • the amount you can pay now
  • a suggested amount for your monthly payment
  • a suggested monthly due date for your payment
  • bank account information (if you want your installments to be debited directly from your bank account)

The IRS is obligated to accept your installment agreement if:

  • you owe less than $10,000
  • you have filed on time every year for the past five years
  • you are not currently engaged in an installment agreement
  • you can prove that you are unable to pay the full tax immediately (record of credit card debt, living expenses, et cetera)
  • you consent to a three-year (or shorter) term

If you don't meet these qualifications, the IRS may adjust the terms of your installment agreement.

The fee for setting up an installment agreement is:

  • $52 if you set up an automatic debit agreement
  • $105 if you will be paying manually (sending in payments by mail or online)
  • $43 for eligible low-income individuals (your income is 250 percent or lower than the poverty level set by the Department of Health and Human Services)

[source: IRS]

If you are supposed to get an income tax refund in any tax year while you are making payments on an installment plan, your refund will be applied toward what you still owe the IRS. Yes, the IRS will get its money.

As with any other debt, missing a payment or multiple payments can make for a bad day. Not paying could put you in danger of defaulting on the installment agreement. And when the IRS does not get its money, it goes after its money.

The IRS will send you a Notice of Federal Tax Lien when it has acquired the right to seize your personal property (your house, your furniture, your antique galleon). When the IRS sends you a Notice of Federal Tax Levy, it will grab your property and auction or sell it to satisfy your tax debt.

The two things to remember in your dealings with the IRS are deadlines and payment. Pay what you owe on time, whether on an installment agreement or not, and you'll be fine.

If you'd like to know more about filing extensions and related topics, follow the links below.

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More Great Links


  • IRS. "A Guide to Information Returns.",,id=98114,00.html (Accessed 4/25/08)
  • IRS. "Are there Fees to Set Up an Installment Agreement?",,id=156479,00.html (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • IRS. "Form 4868." (Accessed 4/25/08)
  • IRS. "Form 9465." (Accessed 4/25/08)
  • IRS. "Frequently Asked Tax Questions And Answers - Keyword: Installment Agreement/Payment Plan." (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • IRS. "Patriot's Day Gives Some Taxpayers an Extra Day to File and Pay Taxes." 2/27/06.,,id=154808,00.html (Accessed 4/25/08)
  • IRS. "Payment Plans, Installment Agreements.",,id=108347,00.html (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • IRS. "Topic 202 - Tax Payment Options." (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • IRS. "Topic 204 - Offers In Compromise." (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • IRS. "Topic 301 - When, Where, and How to File." (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • IRS. "Topic 653 - IRS Notices and Bills, Penalties and Interest Charges." (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • IRS. "What Happens If I Miss an Installment Payment?",,id=156483,00.html (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • Lipsman, Ron. "Financial Calculator." from You Can Do the Math. Praeger Publishers. 9/30/04. (Accessed 4/25/08)
  • Schnepper, Jeff. "It's OK to file for an extension." (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • Wiener, Leonard. "Hurry Up! Tax Tips at the 11th Hour." U.S. News & World Report. 4/14/08. (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • Wiener, Leonard. "Hurry Up! Tax Tips at the 11th Hour." U.S. News & World Report. 4/14/08. (Accessed 4/21/08)
  • Yahoo Finance. "How to File an Extension." (Accessed 4/21/08)