Culturally, it was television advertising in the late '90's, particularly American Tax Relief and JK Harris' ads (both now deceased, the latter shut down by the FTC), that has made the Offer program a part of the American consciousness. Commercials commonly had actors on construction sites, taking their hard hats off to shrug off their huge tax debt, while the dollar signs flashed across the screen. Promises were made, such as "You can reduce your debt by 95%, 90% of what you owe!"
In the last decade, the Offer program had significantly changes: mandating that 20% of Offers be paid up front. Furthermore, a $186 filing fee was put in place - to pay for staff and to discourage the frivolous filing of Offers.
Lastly in May of 2012 - the IRS rules for Offer in Compromise changed more dramatically than they have in their history: Offer in Compromise Rule Changes - 2012 - Huge !
From our perspective of the 500 clients we help every year, about 175 cases are for Offer in Compromise so they represent about 35% of the cases we do.