You'll Need Objective Proof to Claim Doubt as to Liability

If you have been slapped with a big back tax bill by the IRS, one recourse is to file an Offer in Compromise, in which you agree to pay less than the full amount within a specified period of time. One component of an Offer in Compromise is “doubt as to liability,” meaning you and your tax lawyer dispute the government's assessment of your debt. The IRS doesn't like to be second-guessed, though, which can make a “doubt as to liability” strategy difficult to implement.

How Can You Establish a Doubt as to Liability Claim?

By taking the doubt as to liability option when making an Offer in Compromise, you are suggesting to the IRS that a serious mistake has been made when calculating your back tax bill, and you either owe a drastically reduced amount or nothing at all. This can happen when:

  • You do owe a back tax bill, but the IRS has calculated the accompanying penalties and interest incorrectly
  • The IRS has made a simple mistake when assessing your tax return (say, classifying you as a small business when in fact you are an employee of a company)
  • There is a serious ambiguity about the interpretation of the tax laws, and a case can be made that you fall under a loophole in the Tax Code
  • The IRS has made a computer error, and somehow added an extra “0” to the amount owed (this can usually be rectified fairly painlessly)
  • The IRS has failed to allow deductions (charitable donations, mortgage payments, etc.) which you can prove by providing additional documentation


When making a doubt as to liability claim, you should bear in mind that the onus is on you, not the IRS, to provide the necessary documentation (pay stubs, bank statements, etc.). Unless you provide actual, objective proof of a serious error, your tax bill will not be rectified.

Are You Disputing Your Back Tax Bill? Call Our Experts for Help

If you are contemplating filing a doubt as to liability claim under your Offer in Compromise, you need the help of an experienced Oklahoma tax lawyer. Call the law firm of Travis W. Watkins, PC today (800-721-7054) to find out what we can do for you!