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Dont panic if you cant pay Ñ the IRS has other ways to get your money

The Internal Revenue Service used to go out of its way to burnish its Simon Legree reputation at this time of year. But the federal tax collector has been cultivating a kindler, gentler image of late.

In a recent circular, it counseled taxpayers who can't pay not to panic:

'If you can't immediately pay the taxes you owe, consider some stress-reducing alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, setting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card, either as part of an electronic return or via a phone call to a processing agent.'