According to Internal Revenue Service data released in 2018, Americans owe $131 billion in back taxes, penalties, and interest. The reasons for this staggering debt include everything from under-reporting and calculation errors to more criminal motives like fraud and tax evasion. Regardless of the reason, as the world's largest tax collection agency, the IRS will use whatever legal means it can to collect its debt. If you happen to be on the receiving end of the agency's collection efforts, here's how to know when it's time to get help from a tax attorney.
How The IRS Collection Process Works
If you don't pay your taxes in full when you file your tax return, the IRS will send you a bill for the amount you owe. That bill starts the collection process. Typically you will get three notices before the IRS moves on to the next steps in the process.
If you don't receive or respond to those notices, the IRS will move to placing a lien on your property or seizing it. It can also garnish your wages and take other income. The agency will continue its seizure efforts until you pay your taxes in full, or it can no longer legally collect the tax.
When To Hire An Attorney
Getting help from an attorney as soon as possible can help you avoid dire consequences down the road. In that vein, consider hiring a tax attorney in the following situations.
Before filing your taxes if:
- You run a business and need help with quarterly tax planning and discerning your business and personal tax liability;
- You have assets in need of special protection, or
- You have a high tax liability.
After filing your taxes if:
- You noticed a mistake on your return, or
- You've received your tax bill and want to negotiate a payment plan.
It is essential that you hire an attorney if one of the following situations apply to you:
- The IRS is ignoring your attempts to correct an error,
- The IRS is auditing you,
- You owe $100,000 or more in taxes,
- You wish to make an Offer in Compromise to settle your tax debt,
- You need help to remove a tax lien or levy,
- You plan to sue the IRS,
- The IRS is suing you,
- You'd like an independent review of your tax case, or
- You are under criminal investigation by the IRS
Working your way through an IRS collection can feel like a no-win situation if you don't have help. You need an experienced tax lawyer by your side to secure the best outcome. If you need help, call Senior Partner, Tax Controversy Attorney, and former IRS attorney Brandon A. Keim at (602) 200-7399 or contact him online to discuss your options.