Resolve Unpaid Taxes

Outstanding tax debts can be resolved in a number of ways.

Payment Plans.

All of the taxing agencies are willing to set up payment plans. There are special rules that must be followed for the calculation and determination of your payment amount. Regulations determine allowable expenses that may be deducted from your income in determining your ability to pay. A knowledgeable tax lawyer can help you so the lowest monthly payment plan can be arranged. The government often asks for a payment that is more than you can afford to pay. However, if you know the specifics of the rules and the methods for calculating a proper payment plan, lower payments can be arranged.

Offers in Compromise.

An offer in compromise is a proposal to the government to accept a smaller sum of money in full payment of your tax debt. All of the taxing agencies will accept an offer in compromise, although some of the state agencies require more formal legal proceedings in order to qualify for an offer in compromise. Some even require a lawsuit, which they will settle to implement the offer in compromise. Offers in compromise are handled through a complex set of rules and mandatory asset, income and deduction calculations. It is not possible to simply walk in to your local tax office and deal with the government, as you might deal with a local business to resolve the debt. Many people believe that they can simply propose an amount, explain their circumstances and have the offer accepted. The offer in compromise programs are “rule and regulation based” and the eventual amount of an accepted offer is determined in large part on the experience and talent of your tax attorney.

Removal of Penalties and Interest.

Penalties can often be removed if you have “reasonable cause” for the situation that caused the penalty to be imposed. Reasonable cause is a legal term of art which basically requires that the triggering event for the penalty was not your fault. Some departments will remove penalties quite liberally if the appropriate information is submitted to them. In some cases, penalties will be removed where technically a taxpayer does not qualify. In other cases, a hardline stance will be present. Different departments within the IRS, Franchise Tax Board, State Board of Equalization and Employment Development Department are more liberal than others in those same departments in granting such requests. If you submit a request based on circumstances that do not qualify for removal of the penalty, it is difficult thereafter to submit a new request and have it granted. Requests should be carefully analyzed and presented correctly the first time, in a manner that will convince the agency immediately that your circumstances constitute reasonable cause.

Interest on taxes is often impossible to cancel. See a qualified tax lawyer to discuss the issue further.


Some tax debts can be discharged in bankruptcy. In general, there are three basic requirements to cancel your debts in bankruptcy, assuming you otherwise qualify for a bankruptcy. Usually the tax debt must be at least three years old. This means that the tax relates to a return that you filed (or should have filed) at least three years ago. Second, you must have filed your return at least two years before the bankruptcy. Third, if there has been any change to the amount of tax (as in an audit), the change must have been made at least 240 days before the bankruptcy. Please be aware that the information presented here on bankruptcy is general information only and a tax attorney should always be consulted before you file bankruptcy. There are many exceptions to these rules, including some exceptions which allow you to discharge your taxes even when the above rules do not apply.

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The Law Offices of Maynard & Hogan represents clients throughout Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and Santa Cruz Counties.


Founded in 1979, The Law Offices of Maynard & Hogan specializes in Tax Law and Family Law. We handle virtually every aspect of these specialty areas, and we are equally adept at negotiating settlements as succeeding at trial.

Firm Philosophy

We are committed to a strong yet realistic representation of our clients' interests using our knowledge, judgment, negotiating and counseling abilities, litigation and interpersonal skills. We typically work harder than our adversaries in order to achieve a fair and just result. We believe that these traits and the hard work associated with them are necessary to make our practice responsive to the needs of our clients and individually rewarding. Responsiveness to client needs, individual client attention and producing a high-quality work product are the cornerstones of our practice.

We believe that the firm size, while offering broad expertise, allows us to provide our clients with individual attention, and thus ensures a better working relationship and greater quality control in every matter.

Named as among the Top Attorneys in Silicon Valley

Year after year, San Jose Magazine has repeatedly named Douglas Scott Maynard and Moira A. Hogan as among the Top Attorneys in Silicon Valley. Mr. Maynard, Ms. Hogan and the firm have consistently received this honor in separate polls and queries both of opposing attorneys and of clients. These polls and queries were independently conducted by the magazine.

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