The IRS can file a federal tax lien, whenever a tax payer has a delinquent debt. However, they do not generally file a lien unless the debt is substantial and over twenty five thousand dollars. At that level, the IRS almost always files a tax lien. They will also regularly file a tax lien if the taxpayer owes less than that amount and gets the IRS to agree the taxpayer is in ‘not collectible status’. Not collectible status is when a taxpayer can show that their income is insufficient to pay anything on the tax debt, after only basic needs are taken care of.
In this status, the IRS agrees to cease all collection efforts, leaving wages and bank accounts free from tax levies, usually for a period of one year which is great. The not so good part is that it is accompanied by a federal tax lien. Many people think these are filed against property, but that is not the case. The lien is personally filed against the taxpayer, which will appear on a person’s credit report in the public records area. The lien will remain there until the tax debt is paid in full or is settled for less than is owed through an offer in compromise.
The IRS collection process is something that some people could find pretty scary if they haven’t filed the appropriate taxes. It can be the case that the first time a taxpayer realises that they owe the IRS at all is when a Notice of Intent to Levy is received. A Notice of Intent to Levy is a written warning that is mailed to the taxpayer, alerting the taxpayer that the IRS is attempting to collect on a tax debt. Notices of Intent to Levy can come with a ten or thirty day warning period, giving the taxpayer time to take action to protect themselves. Notice of Intent to Levy should never ever be ignored.
A threatened levy can be stopped, if the taxpayer takes the proper action. Generally, stopping a levy requires that all tax returns are filed up to date. Also, a threatened levy will be stopped if the taxpayer pays the debt in full, contacts the IRS and makes payment arrangements, or can prove to the IRS that they are in financial hardship and lacks the ability to make a payment on the tax debt. Seeking advice from companies such as platinumtaxdefenders.com is so important here as it can make all the difference between burying your head in the sand or getting yourself straightened out with the IRS. To prove financial hardship, the tax payer must submit a financial disclosure to the IRS and meet their criteria for financial hardship. It is important to remember that the IRS’ definition of financial hardship is usually far narrower than the taxpayer’s definition. If you can afford treats, holidays and takeaways you’re not considered in hardship so make a note of that!