IRS Tax Liens
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A levy is a legal seizure of your property to satisfy a tax debt. Levies are different from liens. A lien is a legal claim against your property to secure payment of your tax debt, while a levy actually takes the property to satisfy the tax debt.
A federal tax lien comes into being when the IRS assesses a tax against you and sends you a bill that you neglect or refuse to pay it. The IRS files a public document, the Notice of Federal Tax Lien, to alert creditors that the government has a legal right to your property. You have the right to appeal if the IRS advises you of the intent to file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien.
When filed, the Notice of Federal Tax Lien is a public document that alerts other creditors that the IRS is asserting a secured claim against your assets. Credit reporting agencies may find the Notice of Federal Tax Lien and include it in your credit report. An IRS levy is not a public record and should not affect your credit report.
What actions must the Internal Revenue Service take before a levy can be issued?
The IRS will usually levy only after these four requirements are met:
- The IRS assessed the tax and sent you a Notice and Demand for Payment (a tax bill);
- You neglected or refused to pay the tax; and
- The IRS sent you a Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to A Hearing (levy notice) at least 30 days before the levy. The IRS may give you this notice in person, leave it at your home or your usual place of business, or send it to your last known address by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested. Please note: if the IRS levies your state tax refund, you may receive a Notice of Levy on Your State Tax Refund, Notice of Your Right to Hearing after the levy.
- The IRS sent you advance notification of Third Party Contact notifying you that IRS may contact third parties regarding the determination or collection of your tax liability.
When will the IRS issue a levy?
If you do not pay your taxes (or make arrangements to settle your debt), and the IRS determines that a levy is the next appropriate action, the IRS may levy any property or right to property you own or have an interest in. For instance, the IRS could levy property that is yours, but is held by someone else (such as your wages, retirement accounts, dividends, bank accounts, licenses, rental income, accounts receivables, the cash loan value of your life insurance, or commissions).