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IRS Collection Financial Standards are intended for use in calculating repayment of delinquent taxes. These Standards are effective on March 1, 2011 for purposes of federal tax administration only. Collection Financial Standards are used to help determine a taxpayer’s ability to pay a delinquent tax liability. 

Allowable living expenses include those expenses that meet the necessary expense test. The necessary expense test is defined as expenses that are necessary to provide for a taxpayer’s (and his or her family’s) health and welfare and/or production of income. National Standards for food, clothing and other items apply nationwide.   Taxpayers are allowed the total National Standards amount for their family size, without questioning the amount actually spent. National Standards have also been established for minimum allowances for out-of-pocket health care expenses.  Taxpayers and their dependents are allowed the standard amount on a per person basis, without questioning the amount actually spent. Maximum allowances for housing and utilities and transportation, known as the Local Standards, vary by location.   In most cases, the taxpayer is allowed the amount actually spent, or the local standard, whichever is less. Generally, the total number of persons allowed for necessary living expenses should be the same as those allowed as exemptions on the taxpayer’s most recent year income tax return.

If the IRS determines that the facts and circumstances of a taxpayer’s situation indicate that using the standards is inadequate to provide for basic living expenses, they may allow for actual expenses.  However, taxpayers must provide documentation that supports a determination that using national and local expense standards leaves them an inadequate means of providing for basic living expenses.

California standards are reproduced below.  For other states, visit the standards on the web:,,id=104696,00.html