Now you see it, now you don’t.
If the IRS believes you owe a significant amount of back taxes, and after many warnings you still haven’t paid up, you could wake up one morning to a zero balance in your bank account. You’ll discover that your bills are unpaid, your account is overdrawn, and the checks you’ve written recently are going to bounce.
This is the power of an IRS lien.
Not only does it damage your credit (and your credibility), but you’ll have to find a way to cover all those payments, plus possible overdraft charges, interest, and other penalties, with money that you no longer have.
And you might still owe the IRS additional funds on top of this.
When it comes to your property and investments, an IRS lien takes a schizophrenic turn. On the one hand, you may be forced to sell some of these assets in order to pay off your tax debt and release the lien.
On the other hand, the IRS lien might make it impossible to sell these assets. For example, if you sell a house and the lien is not released, the IRS still has a claim on it.
Realtors and buyers are aware of this, so many of them routinely check for an IRS lien before closing on a property. This means you may be unable to sell your property without releasing a lien.
If you’ve been served any kind of notice regarding an IRS Lien, chances are you’ve been having tax problems for a while.
But even if an IRS lien hasn’t yet entered your universe, it’s time to take charge of your tax problems, because the lien you don’t see may already be in place. It’s important to understand the different kind of liens used by the IRS, and know what options you have.
Statutory Liens and your IRS lien.
A lien is a claim on your property or other assets to cover an unpaid debt. IRS liens are a commonly used tool, although they aren’t always carried out to their most extreme conclusions. In fact, you may have an IRS lien and not even know about it.
The government has a specific law, IRS Code 6321, that creates an IRS lien automatically. The code states that whenever you owe money to the IRS for back taxes, the IRS automatically has a lien on your property, even if this isn’t yet written in your file.
This makes it easy for the IRS to make a simple claim without notifying you.
But even though you may not be aware of an IRS lien, the process is in motion. Eventually you will probably be forced to pay the IRS, even if it means you have to empty out your bank account, sell your stock or your property, or forfeit part of the wages you earn, unless you seek professional help.
Remember that in each of these cases, an IRS lien gives the government sweeping powers that can bring serious consequences in your life.
For example, if the result of an IRS lien is that the government decides to garnish your wages, you’ll have to cut back drastically on all your expenses. The IRS doesn’t merely take a certain percentage of your paycheck. Rather, they decide how little you could survive on if you were absolutely frugal, and take the rest until your tax debt is paid off and the lien is released.
So what can you do?
If you’re facing an IRS lien, the first thing you need to do is get some help and advice from a tax attorney. A tax attorney can help you by arranging some or all of these solutions, depending on what is best for your situation:
- Clear up any errors. If the IRS made an error in assessing the lien, a tax attorney might be able to release the IRS lien.
- Appeal the IRS lien. When the IRS first issues a lien, they’re required to notify you in writing. You have an opportunity to appeal the IRS lien if you act quickly.
- Release the IRS lien for certain assets. If you’re forced to sell property or other investments to pay off your tax debt, a tax attorney may be able to arrange for the IRS to release the lien on a certain asset that you choose. This way, you’ll at least be able to decide which asset to be rid of, rather than having all of them taken away. This works especially well when you can reduce your tax debt through penalty abatement, an offer-in-compromise, or other arrangement.
- Slow down the process. Obviously, an IRS lien can cause serious financial hardship, and potentially impact your ability to earn. But a tax attorney may be able to act as your shield and deflect the direst consequences of an IRS lien.
Once you’ve proactively minimized the impact of an IRS lien, your next step is to pay off your tax debt. This can be easier than you think if you look into all your payment options.
For example, a tax attorney can help you negotiate a monthly payment plan or possibly a settlement offer. Instead of dealing with the stress and uncertainty caused by an IRS lien, you’ll be able to take care of the problem with predictable monthly payments or maybe even a settlement offer.
A tax attorney may also be able help you release your IRS lien through penalty abatement. In essence, some or all of the tax penalties and their interest are erased. This makes it easier to pay off your back taxes and release your IRS lien sooner.
Similarly, you may be able to cut down the amount you have to pay by arranging an offer-in-compromise. This involves negotiating with the IRS to pay off your tax debt at pennies on the dollar. This can be a very effective way to end your IRS lien and get on with your life.
Once you’ve settled everything with the IRS, the IRS is required to file a Certificate of Release to show that the IRS lien has been officially released.
The IRS is often negligent in sending these certificates, so again a tax attorney can help ensure that the process is complete. Be sure to send copies of your Certificate of Release to the three largest credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Many people are intimidated by the IRS, but they still try to challenge the government on their own without any professional tax help. This is usually a mistake.
I’ve helped taxpayers deal with IRS liens for 12 years. Most people are concerned about the price of this help. Rest assured that your initial consultation is free of charge. We’ll try to answer your questions and concerns because we want you to feel comfortable hiring us.
On top of that, the peace of mind you’ll feel is priceless, once you’re free of your IRS lien and you can move in with your life.
Call me today at 1-800-509-2770 and let us begin helping you learn how to release an IRS lien and resolve many of your tax problems.