IRS Fresh Start Program: See if You Qualify

A lot of people are asking me about the New Fresh Start Program created by the IRS. Even people who are not clients are calling and asking questions about this New IRS Fresh Start Program. I will give a summary, so you have a basic understanding of the Fresh Start Program. However, I want to point a few things out first. The first thing you need to understand is that the Fresh Start Program is NOT NEW. The IRS set up this program in 2011. That’s right, that is 13 years ago. That being said, tricky marketers are making this sound like something new and that they have special knowledge about this New Fresh Start Program. So, beware. If they really believe this is new, they are very incompetent in this field. They should have known about it 13 years ago. I know that I was implementing it, in great detail, that long ago. How they could have missed this for 13 years is a gap of incompetency beyond my comprehension. 

Another potential for this gap is deception. If a business is regularly deceiving you into calling them based on this “new super program” of the IRS, can you trust them at all?

Now that we know that let’s talk about what the Fresh Start Program is.

What Exactly is the Fresh Start Program?

The IRS Fresh Start Program was introduced in 2011 by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help taxpayers who are facing difficulties in paying their taxes. The fresh start program was set up to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to have solutions available to resolve their tax debts and get a fresh start financially. However, many people have asked me if, under fresh start program, the IRS will waive my debts so I can start over. The general answer is no, unless you qualify for an Offer in Compromise, which is touched on below. It is far from arbitrary and is based on your ability to pay.

Here are a few key components of the IRS Fresh Start Program:


Installment Agreement: Setting up a payment plan under this option allows taxpayers to pay their tax debts over time through monthly installment payments. The streamline program under the Fresh Start Program has expanded the eligibility criteria, making it easier for more taxpayers to qualify for a payment plan without having to provide elaborate financial information that would otherwise be required. 

Offer in Compromise (OIC): Under the Fresh Start Program, the IRS has made it easier to get a settlement, and more people qualify than prior to the fresh start program. It is more flexible for taxpayers to qualify for an OIC. An OIC allows taxpayers to settle their tax debts for less than the full amount owed, based on their financial ability to pay. I emphasize here, that it is based on financial information, and much information must be submitted, and proved, before an Offer is Accepted by the IRS. It is a great program, and the rules are much more relaxed, but it’s not for everyone. 

Penalty Relief: There is also great news for taxpayers seeking relief from certain penalties, such as the failure-to-file and failure-to-pay penalties, if you are an eligible taxpayer. The IRS has made certain penalties much easier to qualify for relief, and they have streamlined the process a bit so more people have access to penalty relief. Having the penalties waived will help reduce the overall tax liability.

It's important to note that while the Fresh Start Program offers valuable options, eligibility requirements and specific terms may vary. It's always recommended to consult with a tax professional or visit the official IRS website for the most accurate and detailed information tailored to your specific situation.

I hope this explanation helps! If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me at Advanced Tax Solutions. 303-753-6040 

Todd Whalen, CPA, CTRS, EA, USTCP

Founder of Advanced Tax Solutions, CPA PC

Go Back