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The ten-year collection period can end up lasting more than ten years because it can be suspended for one or more time periods, and the time during which the statute of limitations is suspended is not counted in the ten-year deadline. In the case of an installment agreement, the ten-year period is suspended while the IRS is considering your request for an installment agreement.
The ten-year period can also be extended if you voluntarily agree to do so.
Keep in mind, however, that if you enter into an installment agreement with the IRS allowing for partial payment of the amount due, you will probably have to sign a form waiving the ten-year limitations period, but this extension can be no more than six years.
If your limitations period approaches its end and you still owe the IRS substantial money, the IRS may offer you an installment agreement with attractive terms in order to get you to agree to extend the collection deadline, but be cautious about agreeing to any such extension. You would probably be better off refusing to extend the deadline and letting the IRS collect whatever it can before the limitation period runs out.
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