The IRS Hardship Program: What Happens After You’re Approved?

Navigating the complexities of tax laws and obligations can be challenging, especially when facing financial hardship. In such situations, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Hardship Program emerges as a beacon of hope for many taxpayers. This program, designed to assist those in dire financial straits, offers a reprieve from the overwhelming burden of tax debts. But what exactly happens after you receive approval for this program? Understanding the post-approval process is crucial for anyone considering or participating in this relief initiative.


The Journey Begins: Post-Approval Steps

Receiving the Confirmation

The first step in your journey post-approval is receiving confirmation from the IRS. This is a pivotal moment, as it signifies the official recognition of your financial hardship and the commencement of your relief period. With this confirmation, the IRS acknowledges your inability to meet tax obligations without significant economic hardship. During this time, exploring IRS assistance programs can provide additional support and resources to help you manage your tax situation more effectively.


Understanding the Terms of Your Relief

After approval, it’s imperative to understand the terms and conditions of your relief. The IRS typically suspends collection activities, but this does not equate to debt forgiveness. Instead, it’s a reprieve, providing breathing space to reorganize your finances.


Living Under the IRS Hardship Program

Regular Reviews and Updates

While under the IRS Hardship Program, your financial status won’t be static. The IRS periodically reviews your situation to determine if your hardship status should continue. It’s crucial to be prepared for these reviews and provide any requested documentation promptly.


Managing Finances Wisely

The relief period should be used to stabilize and improve your financial situation. This may involve budgeting, reducing expenses, and seeking financial counseling. The goal is to reach a position where you can manage your tax debts more effectively once the hardship status is lifted.


Staying Compliant with Tax Laws

Importantly, under the program, you must comply with all tax laws. This includes filing all tax returns on time and paying any new tax liabilities. Failure to comply can lead to the revocation of your hardship status. It is additionally ensuring that you do not incur any new tax debts. It’s advisable to seek guidance from tax professionals to help navigate complex tax situations and maintain compliance.


Communication with the IRS

Open and honest communication with the IRS is vital during this period. If your financial situation improves or worsens, inform the IRS. This will help you adjust your status and avoid any future complications. Proactive communication is key, especially if you anticipate changes in your income or financial situation. Keeping the IRS informed can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that your hardship status reflects your current circumstances accurately.


Preparing for the Future

Exiting the Program

Eventually, you will exit the IRS Hardship Program, either because your financial situation has improved or because the IRS has determined that you no longer qualify for hardship status. It’s important to prepare for this transition.


Addressing Outstanding Tax Debts

Upon exit, you will need to address any outstanding tax debts. This may involve setting up a payment plan or exploring other resolution options. It’s advisable to plan for this well before your hardship status ends.


Building Financial Resilience

Use the knowledge and experience gained during this period to build a more resilient financial future. Consider working with financial advisors to develop strategies that prevent future financial distress and tax issues.



The approval of the IRS Hardship Program marks the beginning of a critical phase in managing your tax obligations. It offers a temporary respite, allowing you to reorganize your finances without the immediate pressure of tax debts. However, using this period wisely is essential, as well as staying compliant with tax laws, managing your finances responsibly, and preparing for life after the program. Remember, the goal is not just to survive the present hardship but to emerge stronger and more equipped to handle future financial challenges. As always, seeking professional guidance can provide invaluable support throughout this journey, ensuring you make the most of the relief and opportunities the IRS Hardship Program offers.

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