The Fresh Start Tax Initiative: 3 High-Level Facts

Tax initiatives are often programs or credits that are provided to citizens by programs set in place by the government. The Fresh Start program offers citizens with tax debt- a way to pay it back taxes without having a lien placed on their home or vehicle. If you hax tax debt looming over your life, this program is a great option for getting back on your financial feet. Here are x high-level facts that will help you understand the program. 

Not Everyone is Eligible

Though the IRS would like to help everyone with their tax bills, not everyone is eligible for the Fresh Start Initiative. Generally speaking, the Fresh Start program is the best fit for:

  • If you’re self-employed, you need to be able to provide documented proof that your income has reduced by 25% or more. This can be done through PNLs, bank statements, and other official documents. 
  • Single filers need to make less than $100,000 per year.
  • Married couples need to make less than $200,000 per year.
  • Your tax debt must be below $50,000.

If you meet any of these qualifications, you’re likely a good fit for the tax initiative. 

There are 2 Types of Repayment Options

In short, there are only 2 types of repayment options. Though there are a lot more payment options available with the program, they all fall under these 2 payment options categories:

  • The extended installment agreement. If you meet the requirements above, you may enroll in a program that helps you avoid the fees and interest associated with tax debt. Several different options are available, from partial-pay to streamlined agreements. If you cannot pay your debt in the time allotted to you, you will need to get a tax attorney and make a compromised payment plan with the Internal Revenue Service. 
  • A Fresh Start offer in compromise. If you have demonstrated that you simply can’t pay your tax bill in full, the IRS may relieve you of some of your debt and begin garnishing your wages for the other portion of it. You will need a professional tax service to help you with this. 

You know your bill. It should be fairly easy to take a look at your finances and see which program is more fitting for your needs. If you’re unsure, seek professional help. 

How to Apply for the Fresh Start Initiative

Do your research first. Visit Silver Tax Group’s article on the tax initiatives offered through the Fresh Start Program. Once you have a good feeling for if the program is right for you, follow this checklist:

  1. Gather all the documents you need. From your tax returns to your bank statements, make sure that you have all of your documents in one place (and in order). 
  2. Meet with a tax attorney. Tax debt is serious. Make sure that you meet with a tax attorney so that you can fully understand what you need to be eligible. This is especially important when need to make an offer in comprise. To put in simply, you can’t afford to mess it up. The IRS can still pursue you once you’re in this program if you fail to meet the payments or the requirements. 
  3. Mail your documents to the IRS. 
  4. Fill out the IRS application forms. Remember that you have to print them out and mail them and that this cannot be done online. 
  5. Make sure you’re ready to negotiate. Again, this is a benefit of having a tax attorney. Since they already spend their time talking with the IRS, they have a higher chance of negotiating with them.
  6. Stay patient and follow through. This process can take up to 16 weeks. Stay patient and make sure that when you get mail from the IRS, you act as fast as you can. 


Tax initiatives can be found in nearly every corner of the US. They appear on both a federal and state level. Often times, these initiatives have end dates or regulations- but what with the IRS doesn’t? Find a reputable tax source or newsletter update to stay on top of tax initiatives.

Have you ever participated in a tax initiative? Share your experience in the comments.

David Jackson

David is a personal finance expert, a professional male model, and an entertainment writer.