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Two of the Internal Revenue Service's Most Important Collection Tools: Liens and Levies

IRS liens and IRS levies are two of some of the most important tools, (some might say "weapons"), that the IRS has at its disposal for collecting taxes owed. However, it is important to distinguish between IRS liens and IRS levies.

When the IRS imposes a lien on a taxpayer, it is basically putting a notice of a claim on the taxpayer's property. For example, the lien might take the form of a notice on real property or corporate assets owned by the taxpayer. Such liens may be especially problematic if the taxpayer is seeking to sell its property and the prospective buyer wishes to obtain the asset free and clear of any liens.

Levies, on the other hand, are more immediate in their impact. When the IRS levies a taxpayer, it actually effects a seizure or taking of the taxpayer's property. For example, the IRS may levy a bank account and take dollars right out of the account. Or, the IRS might impose a levy that garnishes an amount from every paycheck due to the taxpayer.

In either event, IRS liens and levies can be very serious matters and it is often well worth the taxpayer's time to seek advice from experienced tax counsel.

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