1997 Tax Help Archives  

The Collection Process

This is archived information that pertains only to the 1997 Tax Year. If you
are looking for information for the current tax year, go to the Tax Prep Help Area.

If you do not pay the full amount of the tax you owe, you will receive a tax bill. This bill begins the collection process. The length of the process depends on how soon you respond and pay the bill.

The first bill you receive will explain the reason for your balance due and demand payment in full. It will include the tax due plus penalties and interest that we have charged on your unpaid balance from the date your taxes were due.

If you believe your bill is wrong, please call the telephone number shown on the notice. When you call, have with you a copy of the bill and copies of any records, the front and back of canceled checks or money orders, or other information that will help us understand what you believe is wrong. You may also call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to discuss why you disagree with the bill. Please have your records at hand when you call.

If the bill is correct, but you cannot pay it in full, you should pay as much as you can and immediately call the IRS to discuss when the remaining balance due can be paid. The unpaid balance is subject to interest, compounded daily, and a penalty which is added on the 15th of each month. It is strongly recommended that all measures are taken to pay in full. You may consider a bank loan, or cash advance on your credit card. For a user fee, we may be able to offer an individual payment plan based on monthly installments. Complete and return Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, with your bill, specifying the amount you can pay each month. Refer to Topic 202, What to Do if You Can't Pay your Tax, for more information.

If you do not take some action to pay your tax bill or contact us to make arrangements to settle the account, we may take enforced collection actions.

Some of the actions we may take to collect taxes include:

  1. Filing a Notice of Federal Tax Lien,
  2. Serving a Notice of Levy; or
  3. Seizing and selling your property.

A lien attaches to all of your property, such as your house and car, and all your rights to property, such as your accounts receivable. By filing a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, the Government provides public notice to your creditors that the Government has a claim against your property, including property that was acquired after the lien was filed. Once a lien is filed, it may harm your credit rating. The IRS will issue a Release of Notice of Federal Tax Lien when the taxes, penalties, interest, and recording fees are paid in full.

A levy is another method the IRS may use to collect taxes that are not paid voluntarily. It means we can, by legal authority, take property to satisfy a tax debt. Levies can be made on property that you hold, such as your car, boat, or house, or on property that is yours but is held by third parties, such as wages or funds on deposit at a bank. When you have an outstanding tax liability, any individual federal tax refund that you are due, will be offset by the amount you owe and applied to the liability. When doubt exists as to whether you owe the liability or whether you have the ability to make full payment on the amount owed, the IRS may be able to settle your unpaid tax balance for less than the amount owed. Refer to Topic 204, Offers in Compromise, for more information.

In all your dealings with the IRS, you have the right to be treated fairly, professionally, promptly, and courteously by IRS employees.

More information on the collection process is available in Publication 594, Understanding the Collection Process. Publication 1 provides additional information on your rights as a taxpayer. Publications can be ordered by calling 1-800-829-3676.

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