If you have an outstanding debt with the IRS or have underpaid your taxes at some point, it's important to understand how long the IRS has to come after you for that tax bill. The statutory limits on the IRS's ability to collect taxes are important because they establish a time limit for tax collection, preventing the IRS from pursuing stale tax claims that taxpayers may no longer be able to defend.
The Collection Statute Expiration Date
The Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED) is the end of the collection period when the IRS can collect taxes. The CSED is typically ten years from the date of the tax assessment. However, some exceptions and extensions can apply. The government may have longer to collect if:
- You file under a fake name or social security number,
- You file a fraudulent return,
- You file a return intending to evade taxes,
- You don't file a return,
- You are serving on active military duty,
- You agree to extend the statute of limitations, or
- You filed for bankruptcy.
The IRS may also have longer for collection activities like a lien or levy.
Some assessments also have their own CSED that may vary from the typical ten-year expiration date. Taxes assessed for fraud have no limit, while employment taxes have a three-year CSED. Moreover, some actions will suspend or extend the CSED. For example:
- If the law prohibits the IRS from collecting tax, such as during a taxpayer bankruptcy proceeding, the CSED is suspended during that time.
- If you request an installment plan, the ten-year limit is extended or suspended until the IRS requests or denies the plan. If the IRS denies the plan, it pushes out the CSED for 30 days.
- Requesting an offer in compromise will also extend the CSED by 30 days if rejected. If the IRS accepts the offer, it suspends the CSED from the date of the offer.
Hire an Experienced Tax Attorney
If you have unpaid taxes, penalties and fees will continue to accrue until you've paid them in full. That means it's time to bring in an experienced tax professional. You need a skilled attorney to guide you through this process. 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.