Back Taxes Relief – How the IRS Collects Tax Debt

Posted on August 7, 2023

Back Taxes Relief – How the IRS Collects Tax Debt

It’s extremely important for a taxpayer that owes a back tax debt to understand the methods the IRS uses to collect unpaid taxes.  Various techniques are used as explained below:

Back Taxes Relief: IRS Notices

If you do not file a tax return and pay taxes that you owe, the IRS files a substitute tax return on your behalf to determine how much you were supposed to pay. When the IRS files a substitute tax return for you, they make an estimate of your tax liability, usually to your detriment.

After determining how much you owe, the IRS will send a notice regarding the payment of the amount. It includes information on why you owe the IRS, how much you owe and how you can pay it. If you do not respond to the notice or make a reasonable effort to resolve the tax debt, the IRS will send further notices, increasing in severity.  If the notices continue to be ignored, the IRS will then move to the next collection action, which typically is the placing of the federal tax lien.

Back Taxes Relief: Federal Tax Lien

A federal tax lien is the government’s claim against your property or assets after failing to pay a tax debt. After the IRS places a lien, you are unable to sell your property and assets, or take a loan without first paying the IRS. Through a lien, the IRS ensures that if you receive any money, the tax debt is satisfied first, in full or partially depending upon the situation.

Liens are considered very damaging as the IRS files a public document, the Notice of Federal Tax Lien, to alert creditors that the government now has the legal right to your property.  This can hurt your ability to purchase or rent property and/or assets such as a house, car, boat, etc.  It can also damage employment prospects since more and more employers are looking at credit reports when hiring. If the tax debt is satisfactorily resolved, the IRS will remove the lien.

If a taxpayer does not respond to the lien or makes any satisfactory efforts to resolve the tax debt, the IRS then moves to the final collection action, which is the placing of the federal tax levy.

Back Taxes Relief: Federal Tax Levy

Under a federal tax levy, the IRS can seize and sell a taxpayer’s property and/or assets to satisfy the tax debt fully or partially. A federal tax levy can be stopped if a taxpayer makes immediate resolution efforts that satisfy the IRS. After receiving the maximum amount of tax debt it can, which in most cases is the full debt amount, the IRS will close the case.