IRS News Release  
December 02, 1997

IRS Raises Approval Level for Property Seizures

WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service has established interim procedures requiring higher level management approval of seizures of property for nonpayment of federal taxes.

"This higher level of approval is a prudent step to ensure that collection enforcement tools such as seizures are only used in appropriate cases," said IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti.

Since November 24, 1997, the Collection Division Chief for the district must approve all proposed seizures. In addition, the District Director must approve all seizures involving a taxpayer's residence, the contents of a residence, or perishable goods. Previously, a group manager could approve most seizures, with the District Director's approval needed to seize a principal residence.

During Fiscal Year 1996, the IRS closed about 5 million cases involving late tax payments. In the same year, the IRS made about 10,000 seizures of property.

These interim procedures will remain in effect at least until the IRS completes two ongoing nationwide reviews of its use of enforcement tools, such as seizures and sales, and the use of enforcement statistics in managing the Collection Division. The IRS expects to finish the reviews by the end of March 1998.

Preliminary analysis of one IRS district´┐Żs practices indicated that stressing productivity without a proportionate emphasis on quality and customer service issues fostered confusion and misperceptions.

The IRS started the reviews because of concerns raised during the Senate Finance Committee hearings in September about the use of enforcement actions and statistics.

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