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The Taxman Cometh With Tax Breaks

Good news for hard times: The IRS can make it easier for you to pay your federal tax bill.

If you owe back taxes and have been hit by a recent job loss, illness or another financial hardship, the IRS can adjust your payments, postpone its collections or garnishment of wages, or settle your outstanding debt for less than the full amount. Call 1-800-829-1040 for more information.

For those current on their taxes but worried about paying this year, the IRS says you should still file by April 15, then contact the agency to discuss your options.

“This doesn’t mean that we’re walking away from taxpayers’ responsibility or saying, ‘Never mind,’ ” says David Williams, director of the IRS’ electronic tax administration. “But given the economy, IRS agents have been instructed to be sensitive to taxpayers in hardship situations and work with them.”

The IRS is offering a new option for those with an adjusted gross income of more than $56,000—Free File Fillable Forms, which allow them to file electronically for free. The original Free res program, which includes complete tax preparation help, still exists for lower-income individuals.

For information, visit the IRS website or call 1-800-829-1040.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

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