Many citizens aren’t exactly clear on what the IRS can legally take from them.
If you owe back taxes, then what will happen? Will you go to jail for not paying taxes? Will you lose everything you have? In this post, we’ll explain which assets the IRS can or cannot seize.
First, let’s check the difference between levy and seizure.
Levy: This is when the IRS takes money directly from your paycheck or bank account to pay your tax debt.
Seizure: This is when the IRS takes and sells your personal property, like your house or car, to pay your tax debt.
First of all, the IRS gives you a warning. Levy or seizure is the last resort when you can’t pay your debt. After sending a “Notice of Demand for Payment”, the IRS waits for a response. If you ignore it, the IRS issues the “Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to a Hearing.”
The IRS delivers the final notice directly to you, leaves it at their last known address, or sends it by registered or certified mail. In 30 days, you can request an appeal or make a payment arrangement. If you don’t, the IRS can start taking your assets.
The IRS sets a “minimum bid” for the sale. They share this amount with you, along with the fair market value and sale notice. The IRS then publicizes the sale through newspapers, flyers, or online. They usually wait at least 10 days after the notice before selling your property.
Can the IRS seize your assets?
Yes. The IRS can legally seize your assets to collect taxes you owe.
Which assets can the IRS seize?
Any valuable assets can becomes cash, so the IRS can seize them. Typically, these items are sold at a public auction for tax debt repayment after your last chance to reclaim them.
- Properties, such as houses, vacation homes, or other real estate.
- Vehicles, boats, expensive jewelry, or other personal assets.
- Bank accounts
- Retirement account
- Saving accounts
- Life insurance
What about smaller tax debts? If your tax debt is under $5,000, the IRS may not take and sell your assets. Instead, they might collect by taking your federal tax refunds and a part of your salary.
When the IRS puts a levy on your salary, they usually take only a part of your paycheck. This continues until they remove the levy or your debt is paid off. However, by law, they can only take a portion of your wages considering factors like your dependents.
Which assets can the IRS not seize?
The IRS can’t take property or income you and your family need to live. Here are the items they can’t seize:
- Work tools at or below a certain amount
- Personal assets at or below a certain amount
- Furniture valued at or below a certain amount
- Unemployment benefits
- Some disability payments
- Court-ordered child support payments
- Unemployment benefits
- Worker’s compensation benefits
- Some pension or annuity benefits
How can you protect your assets from being seized by the IRS?
- First, contact the IRS after receiving a notice from them. Explain your financial situation and learn about alternative ways for payment. If you don’t respond to their notice, the IRS will continue with its process. Besides, relief from levy or seizure is possible under specific conditions. Even though your debt may be forgiven, for example, due to incurred high medical bills, you have to prove that.
- You can request an appeal through the Collection Appeal Program if the IRS hasn’t seized your funds or property yet. Besides, you can also ask for a Collection Due Process Hearing or Equivalent Hearing. Check out Publication 1660 to understand your appeal rights better.
- You also have redemption rights after the seizure and sale of your real estate. After your real estate is sold by the IRS, you or any stakeholder can redeem it within 180 days of the sale.
Working with an experienced tax attorney may provide the best outcome for your situation. You can always reach us to discuss your options, such as not losing an important property or taking advantage of a tax exemption or deduction.
Call now for a free consultation.