The Internal Revenue’s (IRS ) tax lien filing polices were in the Taxpayer Advocate’s 2009 Report to Congress listed as the second most serious tax problem facing taxpayers today. This is not a big surprise to those tax lawyers who deal with IRS tax collection problems on a regular basis. I often tell clients that the most difficult objective is to try and get the IRS to release a tax lien prior to making full payment of a delinquent tax liability.
The Taxpayer Advocate’s Report details how the IRS files tax liens without regard to whether or not the taxpayer has assets, and despite the fact that in many instances the filing of a tax lien does not protect the IRS, and only exacerbates the taxpayer’s inability to pay. The Report also points out that the Internal Revenue Manual puts obstacles in the path of their employees who decide not to file a tax lien— requiring managerial approval, and documentation of any decision not to file a tax lien.
One would only hope that the IRS tax Collection Division takes serious note of the criticisms by the Taxpayer Advocate, and that it not continue to file tax liens as method of punishing taxpayers; however, the IRS responses to the Report make clear that Congressional action will be necessary for any significant tax lien relief.
Taxpayers with tax problems must therefore continue to explore other avenues of relief including offers in compromise, installment payment agreements, audit reconsideration, and bankruptcy to resolve their tax problems.