The IRS charges a one-time processing fee for setting up an installment agreement (IA). The fee is $105 for most people. However, if you agree to a “direct debit” IA — meaning that you allow the IRS to automatically debit your bank account each month — then the IRS charges only $52. This option is attractive, but some taxpayers are reluctant to give the IRS their bank information and would rather just send them a check. The IA set-up fee is even lower ($43) if your income is below the IRS’ poverty threshhold.
The IRS is usually willing to take the set-up fee out of your first payment as long as the payment amount is sufficient to cover the fee. For example, if your set-up fee is $105 and your monthly payment is $200, then the IRS will take $105 out of your first month’s payment and apply $95 to your back tax debt.
If you can afford to pay your entire tax debt in 3 months or sooner, then the best option is to obtain a “120 day extension to full pay.” You only have 3 months to pay, but you completely avoid having to pay any kind of set-up fee.