Here's what we are seeing as tax professionals in our day-to-day dealing with the IRS and the general public this busy tax season:
1. When your taxes expire or the Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED) is still perhaps the most important factor in resolving your tax problem. Your calculation of your Offer in Compromise depends on it and if you are in a payment plan on your back taxes, the CSED gives you perspective, i.e. you won't be paying it forever. WATAX finds out the CSEDs at the beginning of every case.
2. The Offer in Compromise, when you qualify, is still a very useful way to handle a back tax debt that you can't pay.
3. Asking the IRS to take penalties off is becoming harder. IRS will grant you a waiver for one year as a "gimme." But more than one year is becoming rare. We are having to "appeal" these failed requests. We'll let you know if the culture changes.
4. If you are an employee and haven't filed in four or more years - start by filing 2015 to 2017 - those are the years you'll get refunds and it's possible the IRS won't ask for the older ones.
5. If you are self employed and haven't filed in a while, it is often best to file ALL of your missing returns, particularly, if you meet the criteria for an Offer in Compromise. You'll get more bang for the buck by settling as many tax returns as possible, i.e., more Social Security credits.