Publication 594 (Rev. 03 2017) P594
User Manual: 594
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The IRS Collection Process
This publication provides a general description of the IRS collection process. The
collection process is a series of actions that the IRS can take to collect the taxes you
owe if you don’t voluntarily pay them. The collection process will begin if you don’t
make your required payments in full and on time, after receiving your bill.
Please keep in mind that this publication is for information only, and may not account
for every tax collection scenario. It’s also not a technical analysis of tax law and does
not include a detailed explanation of your rights. For an explanation of your rights,
please see Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer.
If you have questions or need help
Please visit IRS.gov for your tax needs. You can get answers to your tax questions
from the Interactive Tax Assistant IRS.gov/ITA. You can also check IRS.gov/Forms-&-
Pubs to ﬁnd all the IRS tax forms and publications mentioned here and the IRS video
portal at www.irsvideos.gov to view informational videos on a variety of topics in this
You can also call the number on your bill or visit your local IRS ofﬁce for assistance.
If you don’t have a bill, please go to the IRS.gov/payments page and click on Finding
out how much you owe for more information or 1-800-829-1040 (individuals) or
1-800-829-4933 (businesses). Before visiting your local IRS ofﬁce, check the
“Services Provided” and the hours of operation at www.irs.gov/localcontacts. Use
the “Ofﬁce Locator” link by entering your zip code to locate the nearest ofﬁce which
will give you the ofﬁce address, hours of operation, and services provided.
Overview: Filing a tax return, billing, and collection 2
General steps from billing to collection 2
What you should do when you get an IRS bill 2
Who to contact for help 2
Ways to pay your taxes 2
Options for paying in full 2
Options if you can’t pay in full now 3
If you are unable to pay at this time 3
How long we have to collect taxes 3
How to appeal an IRS decision 4
If you don’t pay on time: Understanding collection actions 4
Collection actions in detail 5
Federal tax lien 5
Notice of Federal Tax Lien 5
Levy: A seizure of property 6
Summons: Used to secure information 7
IRS Actions Affecting Passports 7
Information for Taxpayers assigned to a Private Collection Agency 7
Information for employers: Collection of employment tax 8
Additional information 8
Publication 594 (Rev. 3-2017) Catalog Number 46596B Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service www.irs.gov
Publication 594 The IRS Collection Process
Overview: Filing a tax return, billing, and collection
After you ﬁle your tax return and/or a ﬁnal decision is made establishing
your correct tax, we record the amount in our records. If you owe, we
will send a bill for the amount due, including any penalties and interest.
If you don’t pay or make arrangements to pay, we can take actions
to collect the debt. Our goal is to work with you to resolve your debt
before we take collection actions. If your bill is for an individual shared
responsibility payment as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the
amount owed is not subject to the failure to pay penalty, levies or the
ﬁling of a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. However, interest will continue to
accrue and the Service may offset federal tax refunds until the balance
is paid in full.
➜General steps from billing to collection
You ﬁle your tax return. Most returns are ﬁled annually (by April 15th)
or quarterly (businesses with employees).
1. If you owe taxes, we will send you a bill. This is
your ﬁrst bill for tax due. Based on your return, we will
calculate how much tax you owe, plus any interest
2. If you don’t pay your ﬁrst bill, we will send you at
least one more bill. Remember, interest and penalties
continue to accrue until you’ve paid your full amount
3. If you still don’t pay after you receive your ﬁnal bill,
we will begin collection actions. Collection actions
can range from applying your subsequent tax year
refunds to tax due (until paid in full) to seizing your
property and assets.
➜What you should do when you get an IRS bill
If you agree with the information on the bill, pay the full amount
before the due date. If you can’t pay the full amount due, pay as
much as you can and visit www.irs.gov/payments to consider our
online payment options. Our online payment options include the
Online Payment Agreement application which allows you to setup
an installment agreement online. If you do not qualify for our online
payment options, immediately contact us by calling the telephone
number on your bill to explain your situation. You should have your
ﬁnancial information available, including your monthly income and
expenses. Based on your ability to pay, we may provide you with
alternate payment options such as setting up an installment agreement
If you disagree with the information on the bill, call the number on
it, or visit your local IRS ofﬁce. Be sure to have a copy of the bill and
any tax returns, cancelled checks, or other records that will help us
understand why you believe your bill is wrong. If we ﬁnd that you’re
right, we will adjust your account and, if necessary, send a revised bill.
If you don’t pay the amount due or tell us why you disagree with
it, we may take collection actions.
If you are in bankruptcy, please notify us immediately. The
bankruptcy may not eliminate your tax debt, but we may temporarily
stop collection. Call the number on your bill or 1-800-973-0424. Have
the following information available: the location of court, bankruptcy
date, chapter and bankruptcy number.
➜Who to contact for help
The Internal Revenue Service
Make IRS.gov your ﬁrst stop for your tax needs. You can ﬁnd answers
with the Interactive Tax Assistant at IRS.gov/ITA. Please don’t hesitate
to contact us with any questions you may have. Call the number on
your bill or 1-800-829-1040. You can ﬁnd answers to your questions
at IRS.gov or by visiting your local IRS ofﬁce to speak with an IRS
representative in person.
Taxpayer Advocate Service
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization
within the Internal Revenue Service that helps taxpayers understand
their rights and protects them under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The
Taxpayer Bill of Rights describes 10 basic rights that all taxapyers have
when dealing with the IRS. TAS helps taxpayers who are experiencing
ﬁnancial difﬁculties, facing an immediate threat of an adverse action,
who have attempted but have been unable to resolve their problems
with the IRS, and those who believe an IRS system or procedure is not
working as it should. Their service is free. Your local advocate’s number
is in your local directory and www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov. You can
also call us at 1-877-777-4778.
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics
Assistance can be obtained from individuals and organizations that
are independent from the IRS. IRS Publication 4134, provides a
listing of Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List (LITCs) and is avaliable at
www.irs.gov. Also, see the LITC page at www.taxpayeradvocate.
irs.gov/litcmap. Assistance may also be avaliable from a referral
system operated by a state bar association, a state or local society of
accountants or enrolled agents or another nonproﬁt tax professional
organization. The decision to obtain assistance from any of these
individuals and organizations will not result in the IRS giving preferential
treatment in the handling of the issue, disupte or problem. You don’t
need to seek assistance to contact us. We will be pleased to deal with
you directly and help you resolve your situation.
Ways to pay your taxes
To explore all of your payment options visit IRS.gov/payments. To
minimize interest and penalties, we recommend paying your taxes
in full. However, if you’re unable to pay in full, you can request an
Installment Agreement or Offer in Compromise. These payment plans
allow you to pay your taxes in installments over time, to pay less than
you owe, or both. It’s also important to stay current on your payments
for future taxes. This means making your estimated tax payments,
withholding payments, or federal tax deposits as required by law.
➜Options for paying in full
We offer several electronic payment options. You can pay online, by
phone or from your mobile device with the IRS2Go app. Go to IRS.
gov/payments for the payment options, telephone numbers and easy
secure ways to pay your taxes.
IRS Direct Pay
IRS Direct Pay is free and available at IRS.gov/DirectPay, where you
can securely pay your taxes directly from your checking or savings
accounts without any fees or pre-registration. Schedule payments
up to 30 days in advance, and receive instant conﬁrmation that you
submitted your payment
Debit or credit card
You can pay your taxes by debit or credit card. Both paper and
electronic ﬁlers can pay their taxes by phone or online through any
of the authorized debit and credit card processors. Though the IRS
does not charge a fee for this service, the card processors do. Go to
IRS.gov/payments for authorized card processors and their phone
To pay your federal taxes quickly on the go, use the IRS2Go mobile
app. IRS2Go provides easy access to Direct Pay, offering you a free,
secure way to pay directly from your checking or savings account. You
can also make a debit or credit card payment through an approved
payment processor for a fee. You can download IRS2Go from Google
Play Store, the Apple App Store or Amazon Appstore,, to pay your
taxes anytime, anywhere.
Electronic Federal Tax Payment System
The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System is a free service that gives
taxpayers a safe and convenient way to pay individual and business
taxes by phone or online. To enroll or for more information, visit EFTPS.
gov or call 800-555-4477.
Publication 594 The IRS Collection Process
Taxpayers without bank accounts or if cash is their only option can
pay using the new PayNearMe option. Because PayNearMe involves
a three-step process, the IRS urges taxpayers choosing this option
to start the process well ahead of the tax deadline to avoid interest
and penalty charges. The IRS offers this option in cooperation with
OfﬁcialPayments.com/fed and participating 7-Eleven stores in 34
states. Details,including answers to frequently-asked questions, are at
Pay by mail or visit us in person at a local IRS ofﬁce
You can mail a check to us at the address listed on your notice or bring
it to your local IRS ofﬁce. Make checks payable to the Department of
➜Options if you can’t pay in full now
Apply for an Installment Agreement
An Installment Agreement with the IRS means that we will allow you
to make smaller periodic payments over time if you can’t pay the full
amount at once. A setup fee applies to all installment agreements.
There are several ways to apply for an Installment Agreement:
• Online, using the Online Payment Agreement application at
www.irs.gov/OPA. You can apply online for a reduced setup fee
if the total combined balance of individual income tax, penalty
and interest you owe is $50,000 or less. Short-term payment
agreements of 120-days or less and monthly payment plans
are available. If you own a business and owe $25,000 or less
in combined payroll taxes, penalty and interest for the current
and prior calendar year, you can also use the Online Payment
Agreement to request a payment agreement. To view an
instructional video on the Online Payment Agreement application,
• By phone Please call the number on your bill or 1-800-829-1040.
• By mail Please complete Form 9465, Installment Agreement
Request. In addition to Form 9465, if you want to make your
payments by payroll deduction, complete Form 2159, Payroll
Deduction Agreement. If you owe more than $50,000, you will also
need to complete Form 433F, Collection Information Statement.
Mail your form to the address on your bill.
• In person at your local IRS ofﬁce near you, please visit www.irs.
If you request a payment plan online you will receive immediate
notiﬁcation if your agreement is approved. If you request a payment
plan by mail, you can reduce the accrual of penalties and interest
by making voluntary payments until you’re notiﬁed whether we’ve
accepted your payment plan request. Our acceptance of your interim
payments doesn’t mean we’ve approved your request. We will notify
you in writing once we’ve made our decision.
With an Installment Agreement, you can pay by direct debit, through
payroll deductions, electronic funds transfer or check. The setup fee is
reduced if you make your payments by direct debit. You can also pay
a reduced user fee if you meet our low-income guidelines. For more
information, see Form 13844, Application for Reduced User Fee for
Installment Agreements. You do not need to submit the user fee with
your installment agreement application. The fee can be taken from the
initial payments made once the installment agreement is accepted.
To be eligible for an Installment Agreement, you must ﬁle all required
tax returns. Prior to approving your Installment Agreement request, we
may ask you to complete a Collection Information Statement (Form
433F, 433-A and/or Form 433-B) and provide proof of your ﬁnancial
status. Please have your ﬁnancial information available if you apply over
the phone or at an IRS ofﬁce. For more information, see Publication
1854, How to Complete a Collection Information Statement (Form
If we approve your request, we will still charge applicable interest and
penalties until you pay the balance due in full, and may ﬁle a Notice of
Federal Tax Lien (see page 5). If we reject your Installment Agreement
request, you may request that the Ofﬁce of Appeals review your case.
For more information, see Publication 1660, Collection Appeal Rights.
If you’re unable to meet the terms of your approved Installment
Agreement, please contact us immediately.
Apply for an Offer in Compromise
You may be eligible for an Offer in Compromise if you can’t pay the
amount you owe in full or through installments. By requesting an Offer
in Compromise, you’re asking to settle unpaid taxes for less than the
full amount you owe. We may accept an Offer in Compromise if:
• We agree that your tax debt may not be accurate,
• You have insufﬁcient assets and income to pay the amount due, or
• Because of your exceptional circumstances, paying the amount
due would cause an economic hardship or would be unjust.
For an Offer in Compromise to be considered, you must pay an
application fee and make an initial or periodic payment for all Form
656 submissions. However, low income taxpayers may qualify for a
waiver of the application fee and initial or periodic payment. For more
information, please see the Low Income Certiﬁcation on Form 656,
Offer in Compromise. This form is contained in Form 656-B, Offer in
Before we can consider your offer, you must ﬁle all tax returns you are
legally required to ﬁle, make all required estimated tax payments for the
current year, and make all required federal tax deposits for the current
quarter. You can use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualiﬁer tool at
http://irs.treasury.gov/oic_pre_qualiﬁer/ to explore the possibility that
the Offer in Compromise program may be a realistic option to resolve
your balance due. To apply for an Offer in Compromise, complete one
of the following forms:
• Form 656-L, Offer in Compromise (Doubt as to Liability)
Complete this if you think your tax debt isn’t accurate.
• Form 656, Offer in Compromise
Complete this if you’re unable to pay the amount due, or have an
economic hardship, or have another special circumstance that
would cause paying the amount due to be unjust.
For more information, see Form 656-B, Offer in Compromise Booklet
or visit www.irs.gov/Individuals/Offer-in-Compromise-1.
➜If you are unable to pay at this time
Ask that we delay collection and report your account as currently
If you can’t pay any of the amount due because payment would
prevent you from meeting basic living expenses, you can request
that we delay collection until you’re able to pay. Prior to approving
your request, we may ask you to complete a Collection Information
Statement and provide proof of your ﬁnancial status. Please remember
that even if we delay collection, we will still charge applicable penalties
and interest until you pay the full amount, and we may ﬁle a Notice of
Federal Tax Lien (see page 5). We may also request updated ﬁnancial
information during this temporary delay to review your ability to pay.
➜How long we have to collect taxes
We can attempt to collect your taxes up to 10 years from the date
they were assessed. However, there are ways this time period can
be suspended. For example, by law, the time to collect may be
• We’re considering your request for an Installment Agreement or
Offer in Compromise. If your request is rejected, we will suspend
collection for another 30 days, and during any period the Appeals
Ofﬁce is considering your appeal request.
• You live outside the U.S. continuously for at least 6 months.
Collection is suspended while you’re outside the U.S.
• The tax periods we’re collecting on are included in a bankruptcy
with an automatic stay. We will suspend collection for the time
period we can’t collect because of the automatic stay, plus 6
Publication 594 The IRS Collection Process
• You request a Collection Due Process hearing. Collection will
be suspended from the date of your request until a Notice of
Determination is issued or the Tax Court’s decision is ﬁnal.
• We’re considering your request for Innocent Spouse Relief.
Collection will be suspended from the date of your request until 90
days after a Notice of Determination is issued, or if you ﬁle a timely
petition to the Tax Court, until 60 days after the Tax Court’s ﬁnal
decision. If you appeal the Tax Court’s decision to a U.S. Court of
Appeals, the collection period will begin 60 days after the appeal is
ﬁled, unless a bond is posted.
➜How to appeal an IRS decision
You have the right to appeal most collection actions to the IRS Ofﬁce
of Appeals (Appeals). Appeals is separate from and independent of the
IRS Collection ofﬁce that initiates collection actions. Appeals ensures
and protects its independence by adhering to a strict policy prohibiting
certain communications with the IRS Collection ofﬁce or other IRS
ofﬁces, such as discussions regarding the strength or weakness of
your case. When an IRS ofﬁce is to be engaged in discussions, you
will be invited to participate in the conference, or provided any written
document to give you an opportunity to comment. Your main options
for appeals are the following: Collection Due Process or Collection
Collection Due Process
The purpose of a Collection Due Process hearing is to have Appeals
review collection actions that were taken or have been proposed.
After Appeals has made their determination and you do not agree,
you can go to court to appeal the Appeals’ Collection Due Process
determination. You can request a Collection Due Process hearing if you
receive any of the following notices:
• Notice of Federal Tax Lien Filing and Your Right to a Hearing
• Final Notice—Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to a
• Notice of Jeopardy Levy and Right of Appeal
• Notice of Levy on Your State Tax Refund—Notice of Your Right to
• Notice of Levy and of Your Right to a Hearing
To request a Collection Due Process hearing, complete Form 12153,
Request for a Collection Due Process or Equivalent Hearing or a
written request containing the same information as contained in Form
12153, and send it to the address on your notice. You must request
a Collection Due Process hearing by the date indicated in the notice
we send you (for proposed levies, that date is 30 days from the date
of the letter). The request must be ﬁled timely to preserve your right
to judicial review of the determination issued in your Collection Due
Process hearing. If your request for a Collection Due Process hearing is
not timely, you can request an Equivalent Hearing within one year from
the date of the notice, but you cannot go to court if you disagree with
During a Collection Due Process hearing, the 10-year period for
collecting taxes is suspended and we are generally prohibited from
seizing (levying) your property, if seizing your property is the subject
of the hearing. We are permitted to seize your property during an
Equivalent Hearing or a Collection Due Process hearing about ﬁling of
a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, but normally we will not seize property
during these hearings. The 10-year period for collecting taxes is not
suspended during an Equivalent Hearing.
You are entitled to only one Collection Due Process lien hearing and
one levy hearing for each tax period or assessment. You are entitled
to propose collection alternatives, such as entering into an installment
agreement or an offer-in-compromise, for consideration by Appeals in
the hearing. It may be necessary for you to submit ﬁnancial information
or tax returns to qualify for such collection alternatives.
All issues should be raised and all necessary supporting information
presented to Appeals at the hearing. You are prevented from
raising issues during a judicial review that were not properly raised
with Appeals in the Collection Due Process hearing. Your Appeals
conference may be held by telephone, correspondence, or, if you
qualify, in a face-to-face conference at the Appeals ofﬁce closest to
your home or place of business. You may be denied a face-to-face
conference if you raise issues that are deemed frivolous or made with a
desire solely to delay or impede collection. For a nonexclusive listing of
issues identiﬁed by the IRS as frivolous, see “The Truth About Frivolous
Tax Arguments” on IRS.gov.
Collection Appeals Program
Under the Collections Appeals Program, if you disagree with an
IRS employee’s decision regarding any levy, seizure, or Notice of
Federal Tax Lien ﬁling and want to appeal it, you can ask to have a
conference with the employee’s manager. If we seize your house, car,
or other property in order to sell your interest in the property to apply
the proceeds to your tax debt, you must make the request within
10 business days after the Notice of Seizure is given to you or left at
your home or business. There is no deadline to request a manager
conference when a levy is served for other types of property (such
as wages or bank accounts) or a levy or seizure or Notice of Federal
Tax Lien ﬁling is proposed. The collection action may go forward if a
conference is not requested within a reasonable time period.
If you then disagree with the manager’s decision, you may request the
IRS Ofﬁce of Appeals review your case under the Collection Appeals
Program as outlined in Publication 1660. If your case is assigned to a
revenue ofﬁcer, your request for Appeals consideration should be made
within three (3) business days of the conference with the manager
or collection actions may resume. You must submit your request for
Appeals consideration in writing, preferably on Form 9423, Collection
Appeal Request. If your case is not assigned to a Revenue Ofﬁcer,
you can appeal the manager’s decision in writing or orally and your
case will be forwarded to Appeals for review. Your request for Appeals
consideration should be made within three (3) business days of the
conference with the manager or collection actions may resume.
If you request a conference and are not contacted by a manager or
his/her designee within two (2) business days of making the request,
you may contact Collection again and request Appeals consideration. If
you submit Form 9423, note the date of your request for a conference
in Block 15 and indicate that you were not contacted by a manager.
The Form 9423 should be received or postmarked within four (4)
business days of your request for a conference as collection action
may resume. Submit Form 9423 to the revenue ofﬁcer involved in the
lien, levy or seizure action.
If you ﬁle a Collection Appeals Request and do not agree with Appeals
decisions, you cannot proceed to court.
Instances in which you can pursue the Collection Appeals Program
include, but aren’t limited to:
• Before or after we ﬁle a Notice of Federal Tax Lien
• Before or after we seize (“levy”) your property
• After we reject, terminate, or propose to terminate your Installment
Agreement (a conference with the manager is recommended, but
not required). Submit your written Installment Agreement Appeal
request, preferably using Form 9423, Collection Appeal Request,
within the timeframe listed in your notice.
For more information about the Collection Due Process and Collection
Appeals Program, please see Publication 1660, Collection Appeal
Rights or visit www.irs.gov/Individuals/Appealing-a-Collection-Decision.
If you don’t pay on time:
Understanding collection actions
There are several words and phrases particular to the collection
process. Here, we’ve deﬁned some of the most common collection
Federal tax lien: A legal claim against all your current and future
Publication 594 The IRS Collection Process
property, such as a house or car, and rights to property, such as wages
and bank accounts. The lien automatically comes into existence if you
don’t pay your amount due after receiving your ﬁrst bill.
Notice of Federal Tax Lien: A public notice to creditors. It notiﬁes
them that there is a federal tax lien that attaches to all your current and
future property and rights to property.
Levy: A legal seizure of property or rights to property to satisfy a tax
debt. When property is seized (“levied”), it will be sold to help pay your
tax debt. If wages or bank accounts are seized, the money will be
applied to your tax debt.
Seizure: There is no legal difference between a seizure and a levy.
Throughout this publication, we will use both terms interchangeably.
Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to a Hearing:
Generally, before property is seized, we have to send you this notice. If
you don’t pay your overdue taxes, make other arrangements to satisfy
the tax debt, or request a hearing within 30 days of the date of this
notice, we may seize your property.
Summons: A summons legally compels you or a third party to meet
with the IRS and provide information, documents or testimony.
Passport Actions: The Department of State will not issue or renew a
passport to any individual who has been certiﬁed by the IRS as having
a seriously delinquent tax debt, and may revoke a passport previously
issued to such individual.
Collection actions in detail
➜Federal tax lien: A legal claim against property
A lien is a legal claim against all your current and future property. When
you don’t pay your ﬁrst bill for taxes due, a lien is created by law and
attaches to your property. It applies to property (such as your home
and car) and to any current and future rights you have to property.
➜Notice of Federal Tax Lien: Provides public notice to
creditors that a lien exists
A Notice of Federal Tax Lien gives public notice to creditors. We ﬁle the
Notice of Federal Tax Lien so we can establish the priority of our claim
versus the claims of other creditors. The Notice of Federal Tax Lien is
ﬁled with local or state authorities, such as county recorder of deeds or
the Secretary of State ofﬁces.
If a Notice of Federal Tax Lien is ﬁled against you, it’s often reported by
consumer credit reporting agencies. This can have a negative effect on
your credit rating and make it difﬁcult for you to receive credit (such as
a loan or credit card). Employers, landlords and others may also use
this information and not favorably view the fact that a Notice of Federal
Tax Lien has been ﬁled against you. However by law, there will be no
ﬁling of the Notice of Federal Tax Lien or enforcement action taken to
collect an individual shared responsibility payment associated with the
Affordable Care Act.
What to do if a Notice of Federal Tax Lien is ﬁled against you
You should pay the full amount you owe immediately. The Notice of
Federal Tax Lien only shows your assessed balance as of the date of
the notice. It doesn’t show your payoff balance or include our charges
for ﬁling and releasing the lien. To ﬁnd out the full amount you must pay
to have the lien released, call 1-800-913-6050 or 859-669-4811 if you
are calling from outside of the United States. If you have questions, call
the number on your lien notice or 1-800-829-1040 or visit www.irs.
a-Federal-Tax-Lien, or view instructional videos at www.irsvideos.gov/
How to appeal a Notice of Federal Tax Lien
Within ﬁve business days of the ﬁrst ﬁling of the Notice of Federal Tax
Lien for a speciﬁc debt, we will send you a Notice of Federal Tax Lien
Filing and Your Right to a Collection Due Process Hearing. You’ll have
until the date shown on the notice to request a Collection Due Process
hearing with the Ofﬁce of Appeals. Send your Collection Due Process
hearing request to the address on the notice. For more information,
see Form 12153, Request for a Collection Due Process or Equivalent
After your Collection Due Process hearing, the Ofﬁce of Appeals will
issue a determination on whether the Notice of Federal Tax Lien should
remain ﬁled, or whether it should be withdrawn, released, discharged
or subordinated. If you disagree with the determination, you have 30
days after it’s made to seek a review in the U.S. Tax Court.
In addition to any Collection Due Process rights you may have, you
may also appeal a proposed or actual ﬁling of a Notice of Federal Tax
Lien under the Collection Appeals Program.
Reasons we will “release” a federal tax lien
A “release” of a federal tax lien means that we have cleared both the
lien for your debt and the public Notice of Federal Tax Lien. We do this
by ﬁling a Certiﬁcate of Release of Federal Tax Lien with the same state
and local authorities with whom we ﬁled your Notice of Federal Tax
Lien. We will release your lien if:
• Your debt is fully paid,
• Payment of your debt is guaranteed by a bond, or
• You have met the payment terms of an Offer in Compromise which
the IRS has accepted, or
• The period for collection has ended. (In this case, the release is
For more information, see Publication 1450, Instructions on How to
Request a Certiﬁcate of Release of Federal Tax Lien.
Reasons we may “withdraw” a Notice of Federal Tax Lien
A “withdrawal” removes the Notice of Federal Tax Lien from public
record. The withdrawal tells other creditors that we’re abandoning our
lien priority. This doesn’t mean that the federal tax lien is released or
that you’re no longer liable for the amount due.
We may withdraw a Notice of Federal Tax Lien if:
• You’ve entered into an Installment Agreement to satisfy the tax
liability, unless the Agreement provides otherwise. For certain types
of taxes, we routinely grant Notice of Federal Tax Lien withdrawal
requests if you’ve entered into a direct debit installment agreement
and meet certain other conditions,
• It will help you pay your taxes more quickly,
• We didn’t follow IRS procedures,
• It was ﬁled during a bankruptcy automatic stay period, or
• It’s in your best interest and in the best interest of the government.
For example, this could include when your debt has been satisﬁed
and you request a withdrawal.
For more information, see Form 12277, Application for Withdrawal
of Filed Notice of Federal Tax Lien or the instructional video at www.
How to apply for a “discharge” of a federal tax lien from property
A “discharge” removes the lien from speciﬁc property. There are
several circumstances under which the federal tax lien can be
discharged. For example, we may issue a Certiﬁcate of Discharge if
you’re selling property and a Notice of Federal Tax Lien has been ﬁled;
you may be able to remove or discharge the lien from that property
if the government receives its interest through the sale. For more
information on whether you qualify for a discharge, see Publication
783, Instructions on How to Apply for a Certiﬁcate of Discharge of
Property from Federal Tax Lien. To watch an instructional video about
Publication 783, visit www.irsvideos.gov/Individual/IRSLiens.
How to make the federal tax lien secondary to other creditors
A “subordination” is where a creditor is allowed to move ahead of the
government’s priority position. For example, if you’re trying to reﬁnance
a mortgage on your home, but aren’t able to because the federal tax
lien has priority over the new mortgage, you may request that we
subordinate our lien to the new mortgage. For more information on
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whether you qualify for a subordination, see Publication 784, How to
Prepare an Application for a Certiﬁcate of Subordination of Federal Tax
Lien. To watch an instructional video about Publication 784, visit www.
Appeal rights for withdrawal, discharge or subordination
If your application is denied you will receive Form 9423, Collection
Appeal Request and Publication 1660, Collection Appeal Rights, with
an explanation of why your application was denied. If we deny your
request for a withdrawal, discharge, or subordination, you may appeal
under the Collections Appeals Program.
➜Levy: A seizure of property
While a federal tax lien is a legal claim against your property, a levy is
a legal seizure that actually takes your property (such as your house
or car) or your rights to property (such as your income, bank account,
retirement account or Social Security payments) to satisfy your tax
We can’t seize your property if you have a current or pending
Installment Agreement, Offer in Compromise, or if we agree that
you’re unable to pay due to economic hardship, meaning seizing your
property would result in your inability to meet basic, reasonable living
Reasons we may seize (“levy”) your property or rights to property
If you don’t pay your taxes (or make arrangements to settle your debt),
we could seize and sell your property. We will not seize your property
to collect an individual shared responsibility payment. We usually seize
only after the following things have occurred.
• We assessed the tax and sent you a bill,
• You neglected or refused to pay the tax, and
• We sent you a Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your
Right to a Hearing at least 30 days before the seizure.
However, there are exceptions for when we don’t have to offer you a
hearing at least 30 days before seizing your property. These include
• The collection of the tax is in jeopardy,
• A levy is served to collect tax from a state tax refund,
• A levy is served to collect the tax debt of a federal contractor, or
• A Disqualiﬁed Employment Tax Levy (DETL) is served. A DETL is
the seizure of unpaid employment taxes and can be served when a
taxpayer previously requested a Collection Due Process appeal on
employment taxes for other periods within the past 2 years.
If we serve a levy under one of these exceptions, we will send you
a letter explaining the seizure and your appeal rights after the levy is
What you should do if your property is seized (“levied”)
If your property or federal payments are seized, call the number on
your levy notice or 1-800-829-1040. If you’re already working with an
IRS employee, call him or her for assistance.
Examples of property we can seize (“levy”)
• Wages, salary, or commission held by someone else. If we seize
your rights to wages, salary, commissions, or similar payments
that are held by someone else, we will serve a levy once, not each
time you’re paid. The one levy continues until your debt is fully
paid, other arrangements are made, or the collection period ends.
Other payments you receive, such as dividends and payments on
promissory notes, are also subject to seizure. However, the seizure
only reaches the payments due or the right to future payments as
of the date of the levy.
• Your bank account. Seizure of the funds in your bank account
will include funds available for withdrawal up to the amount of the
seizure. After the levy is issued, the bank will hold the available
funds and give you 21 days to resolve any disputes about who
owns the account before sending us the money. After 21 days,
the bank will send us your money, and any interest earned on that
amount, unless you have resolved the issue in another way.
• Your retirement account, including Qualiﬁed Pension, Proﬁt Sharing,
and Stock Bonus Plans under ERISA; IRAs, Retirement Plans for
the Self-Employed (such as SEP-IRAs and Keogh Plans) and the
Thrift Savings Plan. Depending on the terms of the plan a levy may
attach to the funds in which you have a vested right.
• Your federal payments. As an alternative to the levy procedure
used for other payments such as dividends and promissory
notes, certain federal payments may be systemically seized
through the Federal Payment Levy Program in order to pay
your tax debt. Under this program, we can generally seize up to
15% of your federal payments (up to 100% of payments due to
a vendor for property, goods or services sold or leased to the
federal government). We will serve the levy once, not each time
you are paid. The levy continues until your debt is fully paid, other
arrangements are made, the collection period ends, or the IRS
releases the levy. The federal payments that can be seized in this
program include, but aren’t limited to, federal retirement annuity
income from the Ofﬁce of Personnel Management, Social Security
beneﬁts under Title II of the Social Security Act (OASDI), and
federal contractor/vendor payments.
• Your house, car, or other property. If we seize your house or other
property, we will sell your interest in the property and apply the
proceeds (after the costs of the sale) to your tax debt. Prior to
selling your property, we will calculate a minimum bid price. We
will also provide you with a copy of the calculation and give you
an opportunity to challenge the fair market value determination.
We will then provide you with the notice of sale and announce the
pending sale to the public, usually through local newspapers or
ﬂyers posted in public places. After giving public notice, we will
generally wait 10 days before selling your property. Money from the
sale pays for the cost of seizing and selling the property and, ﬁnally,
your tax debt. If there’s money left over from the sale after paying
off your tax debt, we will tell you how to get a refund.
Property that can’t be seized (“levied”)
Certain property is exempt from seizure. For example, we can’t seize
the following: unemployment beneﬁts, certain annuity and pension
beneﬁts, certain service-connected disability payments, workers
compensation, certain public assistance payments, minimum weekly
exempt income, assistance under the Job Training Partnership Act,
and income for court-ordered child support payments.
We also can’t seize necessary schoolbooks and clothing, undelivered
mail, certain amounts worth of fuel, provisions, furniture, personal
effects for a household, and certain amounts worth of books and tools
for trade, business, or professions. There are also limitations on our
ability to seize a primary residence and certain business assets.
Lastly, we can’t seize your property unless we expect net proceeds to
help pay off your tax debt.
How to appeal a proposed seizure (“levy”)
You can request a Collection Due Process hearing within 30 days from
the date of your Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to a
Hearing. Send your request to the address on your notice. For more
information, see Form 12153, Request for a Collection Due Process
or Equivalent Hearing. At the conclusion of your hearing, the Ofﬁce
of Appeals will provide a determination. You’ll have 30 days after the
determination to challenge it in the U.S. Tax Court. If Collection Due
Process rights aren’t available for your case, you may have other
appeal options, such as the Collection Appeals Program.
Reasons we “release” a levy
The Internal Revenue Code speciﬁcally provides that we must release a
levy if we determine that:
• You paid the amount you owe,
• The period for collection ended prior to the levy being issued,
• It will help you pay your taxes,
• You enter into an Installment Agreement and the terms of the
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agreement don’t allow for the levy to continue,
• The levy creates an economic hardship, meaning we’ve
determined the levy prevents you from meeting basic, reasonable
living expenses, or
• The value of the property is more than the amount owed and
releasing the levy won’t hinder our ability to collect the amount
We will also release a levy if it was issued improperly. For example, we
will release a levy if it was issued:
• Against property exempt from seizure,
• Before we sent you the required notice,
• While you were in bankruptcy and an automatic stay was in effect,
• When the expenses of seizing and selling the levied property would
be greater than the fair market value of the property,
• While an Installment Agreement request, Innocent Spouse Relief
request, or Offer in Compromise was being considered or had
been accepted and was in effect, or
• While the Ofﬁce of Appeals or Tax Court was considering a
collection due process case and the levy wasn’t a Disqualiﬁed
Employment Tax Levy to collect employment taxes, a state refund,
a jeopardy levy, or to collect the tax debt of federal contractor.
• While the Ofﬁce of Appeals or Tax Court is considering an appeal of
the denial of innocent spouse relief.
Reasons we may return seized (“levied”) property
We may return your property if:
• The seizure was premature,
• The seizure was in violation of the law,
• Returning the seized property will help our collection of your debt,
• You enter into an Installment Agreement to satisfy the liability for
which the levy was made, unless the Agreement does not allow for
the return of previously levied upon property.
• We didn’t follow IRS procedures, or
• It’s in your best interest and in the best interest of the government.
We may return property at any time if the property has not been sold.
If we decided to return your property, but it’s already sold, we will
give you the money we received from the sale. You can ﬁle a request
for return of seized money or money from the sale of seized proper,
generally up to 9 months after the seizure.
How to recover seized (“levied”) property that’s been sold
To recover your real estate, you (and anyone with interest in the
property) may recoup it within 180 days of the sale by paying the
purchaser what they paid, plus interest at 20% annually.
If your property has been seized (“levied”) to collect tax owed
by someone else, you may appeal the seizure under the Collection
Appeals Program or ﬁle a claim under Internal Revenue Code section
6343(b), generally within 9 months of the seizure, or you may ﬁle a
suit under Internal Revenue Code section 7426 for the return of the
wrongfully seized property, generally within 9 months of the seizure.
You may also appeal the denial of the request to return the wrongfully
seized property under the Collection Appeals Program. For more
information, see Publication 4528, Making an Administrative Wrongful
Levy Claim under Internal Revenue Code section 6343(b).
How to recover economic damages
If we wrongfully seized your property, we lost or misplaced your
payment, or there was a direct debit Installment Agreement processing
error and you incurred bank charges, we may reimburse you for
charges you paid. For more information, see Form 8546, Claim for
Reimbursement of Bank Charges. If your claim is denied, you can sue
the federal government for economic damages.
If we intentionally or negligently didn’t follow Internal Revenue law while
collecting your taxes, or you’re not the taxpayer and we wrongfully
seized your property, you may be entitled to recover economic
damages. Mail your written administrative claim to the attention of
the Advisory Group Manager for your area at the address listed in
Publication 4235, Collection Advisory Group Addresses. If you’ve ﬁled
a claim and your claim is denied, you can sue the federal government,
but not the IRS employee, for economic damages.
➜Summons: Used to secure information
If we’re having trouble gathering information to determine or collect
taxes you owe, we may serve a summons. A summons legally
compels you or a third party to meet with an ofﬁcer of the IRS and
provide information, documents and/or testimony.
If you’re responsible for a tax liability and we serve a summons on
you, you may be required to:
• Bring books and records to prepare a tax return, and/or
• Produce documents to prepare a Collection Information Statement,
Form 433-A or Form 433-B.
If you can’t make your summons appointment, immediately call the
number listed on your notice. If you don’t call us and don’t attend your
appointment, we may sue you in federal district court to require you to
comply with the summons.
If we serve a third-party summons to determine your tax
liability, you’ll receive a notice indicating that we’re contacting a third
party. Third parties can be ﬁnancial institutions, record keepers, or
people with information relevant to your case. We won’t review their
information or receive testimony until the end of the 23rd day after the
notice was given. You also have the right to:
• Petition to reject (“quash”) the summons before the end of the 20th
day after the date of the notice, or
• Petition to intervene in a suit to enforce a summons to which the
third party didn’t comply.
If we issue a third-party summons to collect taxes you already
owe, you won’t receive notice or be able to petition to reject or
intervene in a suit to enforce the summons.
➜IRS action affecting passports
The Fixing America’s Service Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015,
enacted by Congress and signed into law on December 4, 2015,
requires the Internal Revenue Service to notify the State Department
of taxpayers certiﬁed as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt.
Seriously delinquent tax debt means an unpaid, legally enforceable
federal tax debt of an individual totaling more than $50,000 (including
penalties and interest) for which a Notice of Federal Tax lien has been
ﬁled and all administrative remedies under IRC § 6320 have lapsed
or been exhausted, or a levy has been issued. If you are individually
liable for tax debt (including penalties and interest) totaling more than
$50,000 and you do not pay the amount you owe or make alternate
arrangements to pay, we may notify the State Department that your
tax debt is seriously delinquent. The State department generally will
not issue or renew, and may revoke, your passport after being notiﬁed
of your seriously delinquent tax debt. For additional information on
passport certiﬁcation visit www.irs.gov/passports.
Information for Taxpayers assigned to a Private
Your delinquent account could be assigned to a Private Collection
Agency. We will notify you of the assignment before the Private
Collection Agency contacts you and will send you Publication
4518, What You Can Expect When the IRS Assigns You to a Private
Collection Agency. The notice from us will contain the name of the
Private Collection Agency we assigned your account to, along with the
Private Collection Agency’s address and phone number. To protect
your privacy, our notice will also provide you with a unique ten-digit
Taxpayer Authentication Number. Be sure to save this number. The
Private Collection Agency will only work with you on your delinquent
accounts after authenticating your identity using your Taxpayer
Authentication Number. Our contracts with Private Collection Agencies
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requires that they provide you with quality service and equitable
treatment. For more information about the private debt collection
program, visit www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-
Information for employers:
Collection of employment tax
About employment taxes
Employment taxes are the amount you must withhold from your
employees for their income tax and Social Security/Medicare tax (trust
fund taxes) plus the amount of Social Security/Medicare tax you pay
for each employee. Federal unemployment taxes are also considered
Employment taxes are incurred at the time you pay wages and
generally paid in semi-weekly or monthly deposits. You must use
electronic funds transfer to make all federal tax deposits, generally
through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). See
Publication 966, Electronic Federal Tax Payment System: A Guide To
What we will do if you don’t pay your employment taxes:
• Assess a failure to deposit penalty, up to 15% of the amount not
deposited in a timely manner.
• We may propose a Trust Fund Recovery Penalty assessment
against the individuals responsible for failing to pay the trust fund
• We may refer this matter to the Department of Justice for civil
collection or criminial prosecution for failure to adhere to the
reporting and payment requirements mandated by the Internal
About trust fund taxes
Trust fund taxes are the income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare
tax (trust fund taxes) withheld from the employee’s wages. They are
called trust fund taxes because the employer holds these funds “in
trust” for the government until it submits them in a federal tax deposit.
Certain excise taxes are also considered trust fund taxes because they
are collected and held in trust for the government until submitted in a
federal tax deposit. For more information, see Publication 510, Excise
To encourage prompt payment of withheld employment taxes and
collected excise taxes, Congress has passed a law that provides for
the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty.
For more information on employment taxes or trust fund taxes, see
Publication 15, Circular E, Employer’s Tax Guide.
Trust Fund Recovery Penalty
The Trust Fund Recovery Penalty is a penalty that is assessed
personally against the individual or individuals who were responsible for
paying the trust fund taxes, but who willfully did not do so. The amount
of the penalty is equal to the amount of the unpaid trust fund taxes. For
additional information, please see Notice 784, Could You be Personally
Liable for Certain Unpaid Federal Taxes? or visit www.irs.gov/TFRP.
If the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty is proposed against you, you’ll
receive a Letter 1153 and Form 2751, Proposed Assessment of Trust
Fund Recovery Penalty.
If you agree with the penalty, sign and return Form 2751 within
60 days from the date of the letter. To avoid the assessment of the
Trust Fund Recovery Penalty, you may also pay the trust fund taxes
If you disagree with the penalty, you have 10 days from the date
of the letter to let us know that you don’t agree with the proposed
assessment, have additional information to support your case, or
want to try to resolve the matter informally. If you can’t resolve the
disagreement with us, you have 60 days from the date of the Letter
1153 to appeal with the Ofﬁce of Appeals. For more information, see
Publication 5, Your Appeal Rights and How to Prepare a Protest if You
If you don’t respond to the letter, we will assess the penalty amount
against you personally and begin the collection process to collect it.
We may assess this penalty against a responsible person regardless of
whether the company is still in business.
Innocent Spouse Relief
Generally, both you and your spouse are responsible, jointly and
individually, for paying any tax, interest, or penalties on your joint
return. If you believe your current or former spouse should be solely
responsible for an incorrect item or an underpayment of tax on your
joint tax return, you may be eligible for Innocent Spouse Relief. This
could change the amount you owe, or you may be entitled to a refund.
You must submit Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief,
no later than two years from the date of our ﬁrst attempt to collect
the outstanding debt, except for requests for equitable relief under
Internal Revenue Code section 6015(f). For additional information, see
Publication 971, Innocent Spouse Relief
Representation during the collection process
During the collection process, or an appeal before the IRS Ofﬁce of
Appeals you can be represented by yourself, an attorney, a certiﬁed
public accountant, an enrolled agent, an immediate family member, or
any person enrolled to practice before the IRS. If you’re a business,
full-time employees, general partners, or bona ﬁde ofﬁcers can also
To have your representative appear before us, contact us on your
behalf, and/or receive your conﬁdential material, ﬁle Form 2848, Power
of Attorney and Declaration of Representative.
To authorize someone to receive or inspect conﬁdential material, ﬁle
Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization.
Sharing your tax information
During the collection process, we’re authorized to share your tax
information in some cases with city and state tax agencies, the
Department of Justice, federal agencies, people you authorize to
represent you, and certain foreign governments (under tax treaty
We may contact a third party
The law allows us to contact others (such as neighbors, banks,
employers, or employees) to investigate your case. You have the right
to request a list of third parties contacted about your case.
Past Due Tax Returns
File all tax returns that are due, regardless of whether or not you can
pay in full. File a past due return at the same location where you would
ﬁle an on-time return.
If you do not voluntarily ﬁle your individual income tax return you risk
losing your refund and we may ﬁle a substitute return for you. This
return might not give you credit for deductions and exemptions you
may be entitled to receive. We may send you a Notice of Deﬁciency
proposing a tax assessment. Filing a past due return after the Notice
of Deﬁciency was sent does not extend the 90 day period for ﬁling a
petition to the United States Tax Court. However, the past due return
will be considered in determining whether there will be a reduction
in the amount of tax increase previously proposed in the Notice of
Deﬁciency. If you do not ﬁle a petition in Tax Court and a tax increase
has been determined, we will proceed with our proposed assessment
as a substitute return. If the IRS ﬁles a substitute return, it is still in
your best interest to ﬁle your own tax return to take advantage of any
exemptions, credits and deductions you are entitled to receive. The
IRS will generally adjust your account to reﬂect the correct ﬁgures.