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What is the IRS Collection Statute of Limitations?

What is the IRS Collection Statute of Limitations?

They say that death and taxes are the only two certainties in life. However, taxes are only collectible for so long. The IRS Collection Statute of Limitations is a critical aspect of tax law that often confuses taxpayers and professionals alike. This statute dictates the timeframe within which the IRS can collect unpaid taxes. While it offers protection to taxpayers, navigating its complexities requires a nuanced understanding. Let’s delve into what the IRS Collection Statute of Limitations entails and its implications for taxpayers.

What is the IRS Collection Statute of Limitations? 

The IRS Collection Statute of Limitations is outlined in Section 6502 of the Internal Revenue Code. It establishes the timeframe during which the IRS can pursue the collection of unpaid taxes. Generally, the statute allows the IRS ten years from the date of assessment to collect the owed taxes.  

How Long is the IRS Collection Statute of Limitations? 

The IRS has a 10-year statute of limitations for tax collections, beginning when the IRS first assesses your tax liabilities. In other words, the IRS cannot collect tax debt that is older than 10 years. You should keep in mind that the first IRS notice you receive is not necessarily when your liabilities are assessed. Specifically, there is a Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED), which marks the last day the IRS can collect tax debt. After the CSED, the IRS cannot legally collect your tax debt, which means that your tax debt essentially disappears.  

If you want to find your CSED, you can count 10 years from the date on your Notice of Federal Tax Lien. You can also request a transcript of your IRS account to find the date your liability was assessed and filed. However, keep in mind that there are several actions that can delay the statute of limitations, thus pushing out your CSED.   

Which Actions Extend a CSED? 

There are several qualifying events that can extend a CSED, including the following.  

Filing for Bankruptcy 

When an individual files for bankruptcy, the Collection Statute of Limitations is typically tolled, meaning it is paused or suspended for the duration of the bankruptcy proceedings. The IRS will pause the statute of limitations while your bankruptcy filing is pending, starting from the filing date until the court decides. The CSED will remain suspended for an additional six months.  

Living Abroad 

Living abroad can also have implications for the Collection Statute Expiration Date. The IRS will pause the statute of limitations while you live abroad for six consecutive months or longer. The CSED could remain suspended for six months after you return to the United States.  

Requesting an IRS Installment Agreement 

The IRS will pause the statute of limitations while it reviews your installment agreement application. If the agreement is rejected, the CSED will remain suspended for 30 more days. This is also the case if your installment agreement defaults. If you appeal your rejection, the CSED will remain suspended until a decision is final.  

Submitting an Offer in Compromise 

When you submit an Offer in Compromise (OIC) to the IRS, the CSED is typically tolled or suspended for the duration of the consideration period, which can last several months or even longer. Once a decision is made, the suspension ends. If your offer is rejected, your CSED will remain suspended for 30 more days.  

Requesting Innocent Spouse Relief 

When a taxpayer requests Innocent Spouse Relief, the CSED is typically tolled or suspended for the duration of the IRS’s consideration of the innocent spouse claim. However, the suspension will only apply to the spouse applying for relief. The IRS will extend the CSED until you either receive a waiver or the 90-day petition expires, whichever happens first. If you appeal the tax court decision, the statute of limitations will be suspended until a final decision is made. In any of the above case, the IRS will also extend the CSED an additional 60 days.  

Requesting a Collection Due Process (CDP) Hearing 

When a taxpayer requests a CDP hearing, the IRS generally suspends the CSED. The IRS will pause the statute of limitations while it reviews your request to stop a levy or remove a lien until a determination is made or until you withdraw your request. Additionally, if there are less than 90 days left in collections when a final decision is made, the IRS will extend the CSED 90 more days. 

Military Deferment 

A military deferment can also have implications for the Collection Statute Expiration Date. The IRS will pause the statute of limitations during military service and for an additional 270 days afterward. If you serve in a combat zone the CSED will be suspended for up to 180 days after military service.  

Being Sued By the IRS 

While this event rarely happens, the IRS will pause the statute of limitations during the court proceedings.  

Can I Ignore My Tax Debt Until the IRS Collection Statute Expires?  

You might be enticed to just wait out the IRS collection statute of limitations. However, this strategy is generally not recommended since it would mean ignoring your growing tax bill and IRS notices. Under these circumstances, simple actions like getting a job, purchasing a home, registering a vehicle, and operating a business would be very difficult. Working with the IRS will typically be your best option, but doing so alone can be tedious, intimidating, and stressful. Working with a credible and experienced tax relief company can help save time, money, and stress. Optima Tax Relief has over a decade of experience helping taxpayers get back on track with their tax debt. 

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation

How Does the IRS Collections Process Work?

How Does the IRS Collections Process Work?

The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes owed to the United States government. When taxpayers fail to pay their taxes on time, the IRS initiates a collections process to recover the outstanding debt. This process can be complex and intimidating for those unfamiliar with it. Understanding how the IRS collections process works can help taxpayers navigate their obligations and avoid potential consequences. 

Assessment of Taxes 

The IRS begins by assessing the amount of tax you owe. This assessment can occur through various means. For example, if you file a tax return reporting income and deductions, or if the IRS conducts an audit to determine the correct amount owed. Once the tax liability is determined, the IRS will send you a notice detailing the amount owed, including any penalties and interest that may have accrued. At this point, the collections process has begun, and it will only end when one of two things happens. The tax bill needs to be paid or settled, or the statute of limitations needs to run out.  

IRS Notice and Demand for Payment 

After assessing the tax liability, the IRS sends a Notice and Demand for Payment. This notice outlines the amount owed and provides instructions on how to pay. It is important for you to respond promptly to this IRS notice to avoid further collection action by the IRS. Keep in mind that interest will accrue until the tax balance is paid in full. The current rate is 8% per year, compounded daily. Unfortunately, those who do not pay their tax bills will also need to deal with the failure to pay penalty. This is 0.5% for each month, or partial month, that the tax goes unpaid. The penalty can cost up to 25% of the total amount owed.  

Payment Options 

The IRS also accepts various forms of payment, including electronic funds transfer, credit card, check, or money order. You can pay the full amount owed in a lump sum. If paying in full is not possible, there are options for tax relief.  

Installment Agreements 

An IRS installment agreement is a formal arrangement between a taxpayer and the IRS to pay off a tax liability over time. With a short-term installment agreement, you will need to pay your full tax bill within 180 days. This option is available to those who owe less than $100,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest. With a long-term installment agreement, you can pay your full tax bill in over 180 days. This option is available to those who owe less than $50,000 in combined tax, penalties and interest.   

Offer in Compromise 

An Offer in Compromise (OIC) is a program offered by the IRS that allows taxpayers to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount owed. It’s a viable option for individuals or businesses who are unable to pay their tax liability in full or would suffer undue financial hardship if forced to do so. It’s important to understand that the chances of the IRS accepting an OIC is not high. This form of tax relief is reserved for taxpayers who have suffered severe, long-term financial troubles, making it impossible for you to pay your tax bill. 

Currently Not Collectible Status 

Currently Not Collectible (CNC) status, also known as hardship status, is a designation used by the IRS for taxpayers who are experiencing significant financial hardship and are unable to pay their tax debt. When a taxpayer is granted CNC status, the IRS temporarily suspends collection activities, such as liens, levies, and garnishments, until the taxpayer’s financial situation improves. 

IRS Notice of Federal Tax Lien 

Once the tax debt remains unpaid, the IRS files a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Filing the NFTL makes your unpaid tax debt public and establishes the IRS’s legal claim to your property. The IRS will also send you a copy of the notice. A federal tax lien will make it very difficult for you to sell or transfer property without satisfying the IRS’s claim. Furthermore, the lien may affect your credit score and ability to obtain loans or credit. 

To release the Notice of Federal Tax Lien, you must satisfy the tax debt in full, either by paying the amount owed, entering into an installment agreement with the IRS, or settling the debt through an Offer in Compromise. Once the tax debt is paid or otherwise resolved, the IRS will issue a Certificate of Release of Federal Tax Lien within 30 days. This removes the lien from your property and releases the IRS’s claim. 

IRS Final Notice of Intent to Levy 

If you still make no effort to pay your taxes, the IRS will issue a Final Notice of Intent to Levy. This notice typically comes 30 days before the levy is initiated. When the IRS levies, it means they seize your property to satisfy a tax debt. Levies can take various forms, including seizing wages, bank accounts, vehicles, real estate, retirement accounts, or other assets.  

You have the right to appeal a levy action by requesting a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing with the IRS Office of Appeals. During the CDP hearing, you can dispute the validity of the tax debt, propose alternative collection options, or present evidence of financial hardship or other extenuating circumstances. The IRS may release a levy if you apply for a payment arrangement, demonstrate financial hardship, or present an Offer in Compromise. Once the IRS releases the levy, you regain control of your assets, and the IRS stops collection actions related to those assets. 

Legal Action 

In extreme cases, the IRS may take legal action against delinquent taxpayers to enforce collection of unpaid taxes. This can involve filing a lawsuit in federal court to obtain a judgment against the taxpayer or pursuing criminal charges for tax evasion or fraud. Legal action should be avoided whenever possible, as it can result in significant financial penalties and even imprisonment. 

Tax Help for Those in IRS Collections 

The IRS collections process is a complex and multifaceted system designed to ensure compliance with the tax laws. While dealing with tax debt can be stressful and intimidating, understanding how the process works can help you navigate their obligations and avoid serious consequences. By responding promptly to notices from the IRS and exploring payment options, taxpayers can resolve their tax issues and move forward with peace of mind. When in doubt, seeking the help of a credible tax professional is a good option. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over $1 billion in resolved tax liabilities.  

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation 

How Will the Inflation Reduction Act Affect Your Taxes?

With the recent passing of The Inflation Reduction Act, individuals who have unfiled tax years or unpaid tax debt may now expect an increase in IRS collection enforcement. Optima CEO David King and Lead Tax Attorney Philip Hwang explain how the Inflation Reduction Act can directly affect taxpayers and how to get compliant with the IRS.

If You Need Tax Help, Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation