There is little that causes a wave of anxiety in quite the same way as the mention of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The title of this post alone may have caused you to take a breath before diving into this content. This federal agency has built a reputation for aggressive and sometimes unfair practices to come after those it believes are not meeting their tax obligations.
Four specific ways the IRS can come after a taxpayer to ensure taxpayers pay their tax obligations are as follows:
Likely the most recognizable on the list, the IRS’ first course of action is often an audit. In some cases, the audit is simply a review of numbers to make sure everything is as reported and to ensure the taxpayer has the needed documentation to support the claims made on their tax return filings.
In other cases, it is the start of a long and complicated process used to gather evidence to move forward with penalties, fees, or the additional tools noted below.
The IRS can make a legal claim on property when you do not pay your tax debt. A lien results in a legal claim. It is essentially a notification to other creditors that the IRS is laying claim to a specific asset. This claim is a federal tax lien. The agency can use this tool to make a claim on bank accounts, real estate, and other forms of personal property.
A levy results in the actual seizure of the property.
#4: Criminal charges.
In some cases, the IRS may move forward with allegations of criminal wrongdoing. This generally requires the agency establish the taxpayer was aware of a tax obligation and took willful action to avoid filing and/or payment.
Whether you just received notice of an impending audit or find yourself looking into how to appeal the IRS’ findings, it is important to know that you do not need to go through the process on your own. You have the right to legal counsel to help advocate for your interests and better ensure you understand the process, your options, and potential legal remedies.