Know Your Rights: What to Do When the IRS Comes After You

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been described as the most powerful collection agency in the country. Unlike your average debt collector, it can impose a tax levy, seize your assets, and garnish your wages without getting a court judgment first. If you can’t or don’t pay your taxes, the IRS will eventually take steps to collect the money from you, using the methods mentioned above. While this is a worrying prospect, it’s important to know that you have rights when the IRS comes after you.

You Have the Right to Challenge the IRS’ Position

If you disagree with the amount demanded or a formal IRS collection action, Section Four of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights allows you to object and provide additional documentation to support your position. Additionally, the IRS must consider your objection in a fair and timely manner and advise you whether or not they disagree.

The IRS Cannot Seize Your Assets Without Due Process

If you owe taxes, the IRS has the legal power to garnish your wages or seize your property to satisfy the debt. What they can’t do is spring these actions on you out of the blue. They must start by sending you a bill stating how much you owe. If you ignore the notices or refuse to pay, the IRS can proceed with active collection, but they will send you a Final Notice of Intent to Levy and advise you of your right to a hearing at least 30 days before they start the levying process.

Your Financial Situation Can Be Taken into Account

Section 10 of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights gives you the right to have the IRS consider any facts or circumstances that can affect your ability to pay. If you are experiencing financial difficulty, you can receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, request more time to pay or propose a monthly payment arrangement. If you are in a state of serious financial hardship, the IRS may consider an Offer in Compromise, which reduces the amount you owe or place you into Currently-Not-Collectible status.

Once the IRS accepts your payment arrangement or Offer in Compromise, they cannot take further collection actions against you unless you default.

You Are Entitled to Representation

According to Section Nine of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, you have the right to retain an authorized representative to deal with the IRS on your behalf. This party can be an enrolled agent, certified public accountant, or tax attorney.

Your best course of action is to always address any tax debts before a lien or levy materializes. As a U.S. taxpayer, you are not powerless when dealing with the IRS. If you are unable to pay a tax debt, work with a Seattle tax attorney who can advise you on the best way to reach a resolution. At Boeshaar Law, we regularly assist taxpayers who are being pursued by the IRS. We will negotiate fair and appropriate payment terms and ensure that you only pay the correct amount of tax. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us or call (206) 899-4860.

Written by Robert V. Boeshaar

Robert V. Boeshaar

Robert V. Boeshaar is a Seattle tax attorney committed to helping individuals and small businesses who are facing problems with the IRS. He believes in using his experience to serve others and to make a difference in their lives.