Home | Making Sense of the IRS Fresh Start Initiative

Making Sense of the IRS Fresh Start Initiative with Golden Lion Tax Solutions

May 08, 2023

You’ve probably heard ads on the radio, scrolled passed ads online, or seen television commercials touting “the amazing, limited-time Fresh Start programs being offered by the IRS.” Every time I hear, blow past or see ads spewing this nonsense, my eyes roll harder than a teenage girl’s. Let me debunk this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you don’t want to let pass by…”

First and foremost, the Fresh Start Initiative was introduced WWWWAAAAYYYY back in 2011. And it’s not a “program” in the common use of the word. It’s a group of policy changes enacted by the Federal Government to ease the manner in which taxpayers can address their past due taxes owed. There’s no code word, secret handshake, or sign you need to flash to have a taxpayer benefit from these policy changes… they just are the expanded options available to all taxpayers if they qualify for the different resolution options to address a past-due tax balance.

To those of us in the tax world, the changes enacted with the Fresh Start Initiative are dubbed “common sense.” Instead of only allowing taxpayers to address their past due taxes owed if they agreed to rigorous and demanding terms most taxpayers couldn’t meet (24 months to pay off a tax debt in an Installment Agreement, for example), it expanded the timeframes, options, and considerations given to each account.

The Fresh Start Initiative loosened the rigid requirements of the IRS Collections Department in three main collection areas: Installment Agreements, Offers in Compromise, and Federal Tax Liens. Here are some of the changes made that carry the biggest impact:

  • Installment Agreements: Under the Fresh Start Initiative policy changes, the IRS loosened the amount of time taxpayers were required to address their past due tax debt and provided additional Installment Agreement options to streamline the collection process. With different options introduced based on debt size, taxpayer type, periods owed, and collection statutes, taxpayers could access different Installment Agreement programs that could absolve them of full financial disclosure, may not require a tax lien to be filed, and even set up payments to address the debt through the timeframe the IRS has to collect on it (the collection statute expiration date).
  • Offers in Compromise: Under the Fresh Start Initiative policy changes, the IRS’ consideration of a taxpayer who is recognized as unable to address the past due taxes owed relaxed a bit, but not by much. Additional consideration was given to “real world” expenses taxpayers incur, just as long as it doesn’t push a ghost-like boundary that is only explained in the Internal Revenue Manual (if you know how to correctly interpret it). Remember, the IRS’ main goal is to collect as much of a past-due tax debt as possible; compromising the total balance the taxpayer will ultimately pay on the debt is something they aren’t big fans of. Though the burden still remains firmly on the taxpayer’s shoulders to prove they cannot pay the debt in full, the IRS is willing to give more consideration to the taxpayer’s condition under the Fresh Start Initiative changes.
  • Federal Tax Liens: The threshold for filing Federal Tax Liens was increased from $5,000 to $10,000, which later again increased to $25,000.00. Additionally, prior to the Fresh Start Initiative being enacted, whenever a tax debt was addressed through an Installment Agreement, the IRS recorded a Federal Tax Lien to preserve the IRS’ right for repayment. Under these policy changes, several of the Installment Agreement options allowed the taxpayer to enter into a repayment plan without a Federal Tax Lien filing as one of the conditions of the agreement.

In summary, though the Fresh Start Initiative had a decent-sized impact on how taxpayers could address their past-due tax liabilities, it isn’t what many of the advertisements claim: it’s not a limited-time offer, it isn’t part of a secret, all-access pass one tax debt resolution company has over all the others, and it certainly isn’t part of a “buy one, get one free” deal. It’s a legitimate policy change that will remain in effect until the next round of sweeping tax debt collection changes is enacted by our Federal Government.

If you or your client has a tax debt situation, contact the Golden Lion Tax Solutions team. With over 23 years of experience resolving all manners of individual and business tax debt account issues, we are the experts at properly qualifying a taxpayer for the best resolution for their unique situation.


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Your future and your family deserve the right protection. Golden Lion Tax Solutions will be your advisor and confidant throughout the entire journey. We guarantee to offer you or your business best-case solutions for your tax debt. We are by your side every step of the way. Start now and get your life back.

For help with your tax debts, email contactus@goldenliontaxsolutions.com or call 833-LION-TAX (833-546-6829)

Disclaimer: There are requirements that must be satisfied in order to qualify for some of the tax solutions we discuss on our website. Not all of our services will be suitable for every client. Golden Lion Tax Solutions is here to help you find the most appropriate solution to fit your situation.