The IRS has a full discussion of offers in compromise on its website. Click here for the full article. Here is what the article says:
An offer in compromise (OIC) is an agreement between a taxpayer and the Internal Revenue Service that settles the taxpayer's tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. If the liabilities can be fully paid through an installment agreement or other means, the taxpayer will in most cases not be eligible for an OIC. For information concerning installment agreements, refer to Topic 202.
In most cases, the IRS will not accept an offer unless the amount offered by the taxpayer is equal to or greater than the reasonable collection potential (the RCP). The RCP is how the IRS measures the taxpayer's ability to pay. The RCP includes the value that can be realized from the taxpayer's assets, such as real property, automobiles, bank accounts, and other property. In addition to property, the RCP also includes anticipated future income, less certain amounts allowed for basic living expenses.
The IRS may accept an OIC based on three grounds. First, acceptance is permitted if there is doubt as to liability. This ground is only met when genuine doubt exists that the IRS has correctly determined the amount owed. Second, acceptance is permitted if there is doubt that the amount owed is collectible. This means that doubt exists that the taxpayer could ever pay the full amount owed. Third, acceptance is permitted based on effective tax administration. An offer may be accepted based on effective tax administration when there is no doubt that the liabilities have been correctly determined and no doubt that the full amount owed can be collected, but requiring payment in full would either create an economic hardship or would be unfair and inequitable because of exceptional circumstances.
When submitting an OIC, taxpayers must....