Howard S. Levy IRS tax attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio
federal tax lawyer serving clients nationwide
IRS Practice Areas
Collection Cases
Wage and Bank Garnishments
Bankruptcy
Offer in Compromise
Audit Representation
Tax Court Litigation
Innocent Spouse
Trust Fund Recovery Penalty
Federal Tax Liens
Unfiled Returns
Statute of Limitations
Installment Agreements
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Archived FAQs

Can the IRS show up one day and take my car and my house because of my unpaid taxes?
Two IRS Special Agents have appeared unannounced at my door, flashing a gold badge and asking to speak to me about my tax return and other financial information.
I have a retirement plan, and an IRS collections officer is demanding that I liquidate it to pay my taxes. Can the IRS get to my retirement money?
I am in an installment agreement with the IRS, but my balance hardly changes with the interest and penalties continually going up. How can I get this monkey off my back?
I received a call from an IRS collection employee trying to collect employment taxes from me for a business that I used to worked for. Can they do this?

Can the IRS show up one day and take my car and my house because of my unpaid taxes?
The recent statistics on IRS seizures separate myth from reality. In 2002, the IRS made just 296 seizures of items like houses, cars and business equipment across the country. The seizures since then have totaled 399 (2003), 440 (2004) and 512 (2005).

Although every situation is unique, you are far more likely to get a wage or bank garnishment than a property seizure. Consider that the IRS made almost 3 million bank and wage garnishments in 2005, compared to the 512 seizures of property like houses, cars and business equipment that same year.

That said, risk of an IRS seizure is serious and should not be downplayed. If you have equity in an asset and are uncooperative in your dealings with the IRS, your chances of having a house or car taken increase substantially.
Two IRS Special Agentshave appeared unannounced at my door, flashing a gold badge and asking to speak to me about my tax return and other financial information.
You have been contacted by Special Agents from the IRS Criminal Investigative Division. They are authorized to carry gold badges as well as firearms. Special Agents usually travel in pairs, and their visits are no doubt surprises.

When Special Agents show up, it means someone is under criminal investigation and it could quite possibly be you. It is unwise to speak or provide any information to the agents without consulting a lawyer first. Politely and respectfully inform the agents that you wish to consult an attorney and that they should leave the premises.

IRS Special Agents are specially trained to gather information, including admissions you may have unknowingly made that are not in your best interest. Even answering a question with something as seemingly harmless as a "no" to a government agent can be grounds for prosecution if it turns out to be a false statement. Be aware that the Fifth Amendment protects you from having to provide any further information that would incriminate you.
I have a retirement plan, and an IRS collections officer is demanding that I liquidate it to pay my taxes. Can the IRS get to my retirement money?
Retirement accounts are generally protected from your creditors. The one exception, however, is the IRS. They can take retirement accounts. Quite simply, if you can get to it, so can the IRS.

The guidelines in the Internal Revenue Manual specify that retirement assets are to be seized only in cases where there is flagrant conduct, such as raising frivolous arguments, making contributions to the retirement account while accruing tax liabilities, fraud, a pattern of uncooperative behavior or continue to incur and pyramid liabilities.

Our experience is that in situations where we convince the IRS that there is not enough evidence to take a retirement account, they will request that you voluntarily liquidate it. And if you do not, you will run a risk of wage or bank garnishment.
I am in an installment agreement with the IRS, but my balance hardly changes with the interest and penalties continually going up. How can I get this monkey off my back?
The IRS will not, on its own, stop the interest and penalties. We suggest that our clients consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in these situations.

Bankruptcy law stops the accrual of interest and penalties, so your payments make more of a difference toward principal in most situations. Using bankruptcy law to make your payments can also result in you repaying substantially less than the full amount of what you owe, sometimes as little as 5% or less.

Bankruptcy can also help when you and the IRS are at odds over the amount of the installment payment. The amount of your payment will be determined by bankruptcy law, not IRS procedures.
I received a call from an IRS collection employee trying to collect employment taxes from me for a business that I used to worked for. Can they do this?
The IRS is pursuing you for what is known as a “trust fund recovery penalty.” We have handled many of these cases, and can vigorously defend you against the assertion of the penalty.

The IRS must prove that you had responsibility and control over the company’s finances, and that your actions were willful. A timely filed defense as to responsibility, control and willfulness prevents the IRS from collecting from you until the case is resolved.

The IRS often pursues those who are not legally liable for employment taxes. We defend the assertion of the penalty against accounting clerks who have no real decision making power; those who are named as company officers merely for the convenience of the person who really runs the business; the spouses of business owners or minority owners who are not involved in the company; or those who are officers or key employees but who have duties completely unrelated to the financial management of the business.


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Cincinnati Ohio tax attorney
11159 Kenwood Rd. | Cincinnati, Ohio 45242 | 513.489.2555
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