Tax troubles can be daunting, and among the most intimidating is the term ‘tax levy.’ At its core, a tax levy is the legal seizure of your property to satisfy unpaid taxes. Unlike a lien, which is just a claim on assets, a levy can mean the actual taking away of your assets – whether it’s money from your bank account, garnishment of your wages, or even selling off your property. The consequences can be severe, impacting not just your financial health but also your daily life, making it crucial to address the issue head on.

For many, navigating the labyrinthine world of tax laws, let alone confronting a tax levy, can be overwhelming. That’s where expert guidance becomes invaluable. Enter Palm Beach Tax Relief: your ally and trusted partner in managing and resolving tax-related challenges. With the right information and assistance, you can escape the tax trap and safeguard your assets and peace of mind.

Understanding Tax Levies

When dealing with tax complications, two terms often come up: tax lien and tax levy. While they may sound similar and are both connected to unpaid taxes, they serve different purposes and have distinct implications.

Tax Lien vs. Tax Levy

A tax lien is the government’s legal claim against your property when you neglect or fail to pay a tax debt. Think of it as a red flag on your assets, marking them due to unpaid taxes. It doesn’t take away your assets, but it makes sure they’re “reserved” for the government until the debt is settled.

A tax levy, on the other hand, is the actual seizure of the property to pay off those debts. It’s the action that follows if a tax lien doesn’t result in payment. In simpler terms, while a lien just stakes a claim, a levy takes what’s claimed.

When Does the IRS Issue a Tax Levy?

The IRS doesn’t impulsively dive into seizing assets. They only issue a tax levy after:

  • Assessing the tax and sending the taxpayer a Notice and Demand for Payment.
  • The taxpayer neglects or refuses to pay the tax.
  • The IRS sends a Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to a Hearing (levy notice) at least 30 days before the levy.

Assets at Risk:

  • Bank Accounts: The IRS can take funds directly from your bank or financial institution.
  • Wages: A continuous levy can be placed on your wages, meaning deductions from every paycheck until the debt – along with additional penalties and interest – is settled.
  • Physical Property: This could range from cars and boats to real estate. These assets are often seized and then sold to cover the tax debt.
  • Social Security Benefits: The IRS can levy up to 15% of your Social Security benefits.
  • Other Financial Assets: This includes any licenses, rental incomes, accounts receivables, or commissions.

The Warning Signs

Before the IRS takes the drastic step of levying assets, they offer ample warning. These aren’t signals to be taken lightly, as each notice signifies a step closer to asset seizure.

Notice and Demand for Payment: The initial bill sent once the IRS determines owed taxes.

Federal Tax Lien Filing: If the bill remains unpaid, the IRS files this to claim a right to your property.

Final Notice of Intent to Levy: Sent 30 days before the levy, this is the last warning and provides an option to appeal.

Once these notices are received, they must be taken seriously and swift action needs to be taken to respond appropriately. Overlooking these alerts only compounds your problems. Apart from risking a levy, additional penalties and interest grow, and your credit score can suffer. Early action can mean easier resolutions and potential settlements.

Tip #1: Pay the Debt in Full

When facing the imminent threat of a tax levy, the quickest solution is to pay off the entire tax debt. By settling the amount in full, the IRS promptly ceases the levy process, ensuring your assets remain untouched. However, for many, producing a lump sum on short notice is challenging. 

If you find yourself in such a predicament, consider securing a loan or delving into your assets. Sometimes, selling a non-essential asset or leveraging available credit can be a viable route to raise the necessary funds, providing immediate relief from the levy.

Tip #2: Set Up Installment Agreement

If paying the tax debt in full is not a feasible option for you, the IRS does provide an avenue of relief through installment agreements. This arrangement allows taxpayers to break down their owed amount into manageable monthly payments. Once such a plan is mutually established, the IRS suspends the levy, ensuring your assets are safe. 

However, it’s crucial to treat this agreement with utmost seriousness. Missing payments or not adhering to the set terms can lead to the levy’s reinstatement, putting you right back in the hot seat. Therefore, commitment to the payment schedule is paramount for sustained relief.

Need professional help setting up an installment agreement? The Palm Beach Tax Relief team is standing by and ready to help.

Tip #3: Submit an Offer in Compromise (OIC)

The Offer in Compromise (OIC) is one of the best tools for tax resolution! When paying in full or setting up a payment plan for the full amount are not viable options, an Offer in Compromise enables you to pay only the amount that you can afford. 

An OIC is a negotiated agreement between the taxpayer and the IRS where the latter agrees to accept a reduced amount, settling the debt for less than the total owed. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The IRS meticulously reviews various factors before granting an OIC, including the individual’s ability to pay, their current income, monthly expenses, and overall asset equity. This ensures that the offered amount genuinely reflects their financial capacity. 

While an OIC can be a game-changer for many, securing approval can be challenging. This is where the help of a tax relief professional can be your biggest asset. Not every applicant qualifies, and finding a professional to build a persuasive and well-documented case can drastically increase the odds of acceptance.

Tip #4: Request Due Process Hearing

After you’re handed the Final Notice of Intent to Levy, the clock starts ticking. You have a 30-day window to submit a request for a hearing with the IRS Office of Appeals. This isn’t merely a procedural step; it’s a genuine opportunity to voice your concerns, discuss the levy action, and present arguments for your case. 

An added advantage? Initiating this process puts a temporary pause on the levy, granting you a reprieve until the conclusion of the hearing. It’s an invaluable time to reassess, gather documentation, and strategize, ensuring you present your case in the best light.

Tip #5: Prove Financial Hardship

In some circumstances, the imposition of a tax levy can plunge an individual into dire financial straits. Recognizing this, the IRS provides a provision for those who can show that a levy would result in immediate economic hardship, making it impossible for them to cover basic living expenses. 

By demonstrating this severe financial strain, there’s a chance the IRS might release the levy. However, it’s crucial to understand that this relief is not a clean slate. The debt remains intact, and it’s only a temporary reprieve. It grants you breathing room – a pause – to strategize, gather resources, and find viable solutions to settle the outstanding tax amount.

Palm Beach Tax Relief is Here to Help!

Navigating the turbulent waters of tax levies can be a harrowing experience, one that demands clarity, timely action, and strategic decisions. But remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Expert guidance can make all the difference between sinking under the weight of tax obligations and finding solid ground.

Palm Beach Tax Relief specializes in providing comprehensive solutions for those facing tax challenges. Whether you’re on the brink of a levy, seeking relief options, or merely need counsel on the best tax strategies moving forward, our dedicated team is here to support you every step of the way.

Don’t wait for the levy storm to hit. Be proactive. Reach out to Palm Beach Tax Relief today and let us guide you safely to financial peace of mind.