Man held liable for IRS debt after 30 years: Tips to avoid the same fate

The statute of limitations generally spans three years, but there are exceptions.

Unless expecting a refund, dealing with the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) is rarely enjoyable. This was particularly true for a man who recently battled the IRS in court over a tax debt from the 1980s. Unfortunately for him, he lost. Fortunately for you, lessons can be learned from his tale.

IRS debt and the statute of limitations

The case noted above, Beeler v. Commissioner, involved payroll taxes, a mistaken release of a tax lien and multiple judgments. It was a pretty unique set of circumstances, and the ruling holding the taxpayer accountable for a thirty year old debt is not unheard of. A variety of circumstances can lead to similar rulings. Yet, the holding to require payment after such a large time period caught the attention of the national media, including Forbes.

The article in Forbes noted that the statute for limitations for an audit or assessment by the IRS is generally three years after the due date of the return or the date that the return was filed, whichever is later. However, the statute of limitations for the IRS to collect is longer, generally 10 years.

Although these are the general rules, there are exceptions. For example, there is no statute of limitations for failures to file tax returns.

IRS debt and payment options

If an audit or other occurrence results in tax debt, options are available. Three examples include:

Determining the best option can be difficult. As a result, it is generally wise to seek legal counsel for guidance.

IRS debt and legal counsel

If the IRS is requesting additional information, conducting an audit or otherwise claiming that a tax debt is owed, an experienced IRS tax lawyer can help. This legal professional can both review the situation to ensure the IRS is not violating your rights and provide guidance on various payment options that could lessen the burden.

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