Currently Not Collectible

There are times where you agree you owe the IRS, but you can’t pay due to your current financial situation. If the IRS agrees you can’t both pay your taxes and your reasonable living expenses, it may place your account in Currently Not Collectible (CNC) status.

While your account is in CNC status, the IRS generally won't try to collect from you.  For example: It won’t levy your assets and income. However, the IRS will still assess interest and penalties to your account, and may keep your refunds and apply them to your debt. You'll also continue to receive an annual bill from the IRS because that is required under the law.

Before the IRS will place your account in CNC status, it may ask you to file any past due tax returns.

If you request CNC status, the IRS may ask you to provide financial information, including your income and expenses, and whether you can sell any assets or get a loan.

During the time the IRS may collect the balance you owe, it may review your income annually to see if your financial situation improved. Generally, the IRS can attempt to collect your taxes up to ten years from the date they were assessed, though the ten-year period is suspended in certain circumstances. The time the suspension is in effect will extend the time the IRS has to collect the tax.

Because the IRS won’t suspend interest and penalty charges, even if it stops trying to collect the balance due, you may want to consider other possible payment options within your means before asking the IRS to place your account in CNC status.

Don’t ignore the notices you get from the IRS about your balances due.

If you decide to request currently not collectible (CNC) status, you should:

  • File tax returns for prior years (if you were required to file a return), even if you can't pay the amount you owe right now.
  • Continue to file your returns on time even if you can’t pay. This will prevent late filing penalties.
  • Gather your information to verify your income, expenses, and any debts you owe (loans, etc.). You may need to provide the IRS this financial information so it can decide whether to grant your request.

To see if you qualify for currently not collectible status, you'll need to contact the IRS

If you got a notice, use the contact information included there.  If you don’t have or have lost your notice, call the following toll-free numbers for assistance:

  • Individual taxpayers: 800-829-1040 (or TTY/TDD 800-829-4059)
  • Business taxpayers: 800-829-4933

If the IRS decides you can make some type of payment and you still disagree, you may:

  • Request a conference with the IRS Collection Manager. IRS employees are required to give you the name and phone number of their supervisor.
  • Hire an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent (EA) to represent you. If your income is below a certain level, you may qualify for assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.
  • Appeal certain collection actions the IRS is taking or proposing. See IRS Publication 1660, Collection Appeal Rights.

Contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service, if your problem is causing financial difficulty for you, your family, or your business; or you face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action.

While applying for currently not collectable (CNC) status

  • The IRS may ask you to file any past due returns.
  • The IRS may ask you to complete IRS Form 433-A, Collection Information Statement for Wage Earners and Self-Employed Individuals, or IRS Form 433-F, Collection Information Statement, and/or IRS Form 433-B, Collection Information Statement for Businesses, before making any collection decision.
  • The IRS may require documentation to support items listed on your Collection Information Statements.
  • The IRS will continue to charge monthly late payment penalties and interest on your account.

If the IRS places your account in currently not collectable status

  • The IRS may keep your tax refunds and apply them to your debt. 
  • If the IRS places your account in CNC status, you can still make voluntary payments.
  • If your account is placed in CNC status, the IRS shouldn't levy your assets or income.
  • The IRS may file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien (NFTL) even if your account is placed in CNC status. The filing of an NFTL can affect your credit rating, and your ability to sell property or other assets.
  • The IRS may contact you to update your financial information to be sure your ability to pay hasn’t changed.

What if I still can’t pay in the future?

If your account is placed in CNC status and the IRS sends you a notice about your tax bill, call the number on the notice to discuss your financial situation. The IRS will take your updated information and decide if you still can't pay your IRS debt and meet your living expenses. Make sure you have all the information about your income and expenses before you call.

You may prevent future tax liabilities by adjusting your withholding or making estimated tax payments.

New Tax Reform implementation changed the way the IRS calculates your federal tax.  The IRS encourages everyone to perform a quick “paycheck checkup” to ensure you have the right amount withheld.

You may use the IRS withholding calculator to figure your federal income tax and withholding. The withholding calculator is a tool on designed to help you determine how to have the right amount of tax withheld from your paychecks.

When you use the withholding calculator, it will help you determine if you need to adjust your withholding and submit a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to your employer.

Browse common tax issues and situations at Get Help.

If your IRS problem is causing you financial hardship, you've tried repeatedly and aren't receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights aren't being respected, consider contacting the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).

You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent (EA) associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). LITCs also provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language.

Last modified January 30, 2018