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Posted On October 16, 2017
Loosening the IRS grip on tax liens can take some doing

Loosening the IRS grip on tax liens can take some doing

If you’ve been on the receiving end of IRS action to collect overdue or back taxes, you know the process can be frustrating. Not only can levies and liens put a crimp on your financial flexibility, they can leave you trapped in a hole under the accompanying IRS cloud.

Tax liens can be particularly difficult to shake. Even if you have successfully shown to the IRS that you are in no position to fulfill your obligation and the agency removes a lien, the record of it on your credit report can linger for unwanted years.

You still have rights

Staying informed about and exercising your rights is perhaps more important now than ever before. As regular readers may recall, we wrote in August about how the IRS is now turning to four private companies to step up collections on past due taxes.

To limit concerns that these third-party collectors might overstep their authority and use strategies that violate the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, the National Taxpayer Advocate recently produced a training video for employees of those companies. And now it is available to the general public.

In brief, NTA Nina Olson reminds collectors:

  • Taxpayers have the right to be informed: Olson notes that collectors have an obligation to make clear how they can work with taxpayers to resolve the outstanding debt. That’s opposed to making clear all the dire consequences that could result for failing to clear what is owed.
  • The tax system must be fair and just: The NTA says this means that taxpayers can and should expect collectors to consider any facts or issues that they believe could modify their liabilities or hinder their ability to pay. And she says private collectors must refer a case to the Taxpayer Advocate Service so the taxpayer for assistance.
  • Americans have a right to privacy: Olson notes that collections by their nature are intrusive and that private collection employees have an obligation to follow practices that are no more invasive than necessary.

Regardless of the issue you face, knowledge of your rights is the strongest ammunition you can have at hand, and working with skilled counsel is the best way to apply that knowledge.

Source: IRS.gov, “NTA Message to PCA Contractors – Taxpayer Bill of Rights,” accessed Oct. 16, 2017