You may not be able to fully pay what you owe, but you can try to negotiate a payment plan.
If you know you can pay your entire bill within 120 days, you can apply for a full-payment agreement, which can allow you to make monthly payments to chip away at your debt. Interest and penalties will still accrue until your debt is paid off, but there are no additional fees.
For more substantial repayments, you may be eligible for an installment agreement, in which you’ll have more than 120 days to pay off your debt. There are additional application fees with this plan, though.
In some cases, you could be eligible for an “offer in compromise,” which allows you to pay less than you owe if you meet certain qualifications and would fall into serious financial hardship if you were required to pay your debt in full.
But “the Offer in Compromise program is not for everyone,” the IRS notes. Before applying, you should explore all other payment options.
Lastly, if the IRS determines you cannot pay any of your debt, it can temporarily delay collection until your financial condition improves. If you are approved for a delay, interest is still charged until you pay completely. And the IRS may file a federal tax lien against your property to “protect the government’s interest in your assets.”