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IRS Allowed Expenses for Food & Clothing

(Monthly National Standard Expenses)
Amended as of January 1, 2004
Clothing & clothing services, food, housekeeping supplies, personal care products & services, miscellaneous

Total Gross Monthly Income One Person in Household Two People in Household Three People in Household Four People in Household Over Four add (for each)
-$833 367 599 732 859 + 132
$833-   $1,249 420 606 774 934 + 143
$1,250-$1,665 456 651 801 942 + 153
$1,667-$2,499 513 727 838 947 + 164
$2,500-$3,333 619 801 905 985 + 174
$3,334-$4,166 689 904 948 1,202 + 185
$4,167-$5,833 722 1,005 1,030 1,257 + 196
$5,834+ 976 1,271 1,407 1,561 + 206

National Standards for reasonable amounts have been established for five necessary expenses: food, housekeeping supplies, apparel and services, personal care products and services, and miscellaneous. All standards except miscellaneous are derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES). The miscellaneous standard has been established by the IRS.

As a practical matter, these expenses are only important if you are looking at submitting an Offer in Compromise. Except in rare circumstances, the amounts shown are what the IRS will allow on Page 4, Line 42 of the Collection Information Statement (form 433-A). For most of my clients, these amounts have been adequate to cover their actual expenses. You do NOT have to prove that you actually spend these amounts. For example, if you are a family of four with gross monthly household income of $4,000, the amount allowed for food, clothing, etc. is $1,202. If you are a family of two with gross monthly household income of $2,500, the amount allowed is $801. Again, you do NOT have to prove that you spend these amounts for food, clothing, etc.

When will the IRS allow more than the amounts shown? If you have a medical problem and have to buy certain foods which may cost more, the additional amount will be allowed with a statement from your physician. While I can’t think of every possible scenario, if there is a legitimate reason to allow a larger amount, we can probably convince the IRS to accept the additional expense. 

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