It’s always “hurry up and wait” with the IRS.
The Offer in Compromise (OIC) process is a perfect illustration of this point. If a taxpayer finds himself with a tax debt that he cannot pay, one of his options is to file an Offer in Compromise by which he offers to settle with the IRS for less than what he owes. But the IRS will require that the OIC be filed as soon as possible; in fact, the IRS collections department will be poised to levy income sources if the offer is not filed (or some other resolution entered into). It is important to inform Collections of your intention to file an OIC, but they will most likely give you a short due date by which to submit the paperwork.
Once the OIC has been filed, then the waiting begins. It commonly takes several months just for the IRS to assign an offer to be reviewed. Offer examiners have to keep an eye on their caseloads because once a case enters their inventory, they are required to move it along promptly.
When an offer examiner or offer specialist has finished reviewing the offer, things pick back up and the taxpayer has to stay on his toes. Once again, deadlines are given that, if missed, could mean the end of the road. During this period of review the deadlines are typically attached to the submission documents that are required to substantiate details in the personal financial statement.
Once all the information is in and a determination has been made, there is usually additional waiting. The case normally must be submitted to a manager for further review, and that can take some time.
With the coming sequestration and IRS staff furloughs on the horizon, it is likely that the contrast between the hurrying and the waiting will be more pronounced. The IRS has said that furloughs will not begin until after tax season — that’s when we can expect longer-than-normal waiting periods at all levels of the IRS as there will be fewer IRS employees on duty to help.