People First Initiative FAQs: Liens, Levies and Other Collection Activities

These FAQs are not included in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, and therefore may not be relied upon as legal authority. This means that the information cannot be used to support a legal argument in a court case.

Q. Will IRS Field Collection activities be modified? (updated July 10, 2020)

A. The IRS suspended new Notices of Federal Tax Lien (NFTLs) and levies initiated by field revenue officers until July 15, 2020, unless the IRS determines there are pressing circumstances, or the taxpayer has agreed to the action. However, importantly, field revenue officers will continue to pursue high-income non-filers and perform other similar activities where warranted. Taxpayers should be aware that revenue officers can contact taxpayers by phone, and that the revenue officer will provide resources if asked, including a direct phone line to call to verify that they are an IRS employee.

Note that the IRS does not:

  • Demand that taxpayers use a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card or gift card. The IRS will not ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone. If a taxpayer owes taxes, they should make payments to the United States Treasury or review IRS.gov/payments for IRS online options.
  • Demand that a taxpayer pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say a taxpayer owes. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill if a taxpayer owes any taxes. Taxpayers should also be advised of their rights as a taxpayer.
  • Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement to have a taxpayer arrested for not paying. The IRS also cannot revoke a taxpayer's driver's license, business licenses, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.
  • Taxpayers who receive the IRS phone scam or any IRS impersonation scam should report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting site and to the IRS by emailing phishing@irs.gov with the subject line "IRS Phone Scam."

Q. Is the Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED) affected by the People First Initiative or COVID-19 relief? (updated July 10, 2020)

A. No. The COVID-19 relief does not change the Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED). All activities affecting the CSED still apply based on law and regulation. The IRS will continue to take necessary steps to protect all applicable statutes of limitations. In instances when statutes are in jeopardy of expiring, IRS encourages taxpayers to cooperate in extending such statutes. Otherwise, the IRS may pursue actions to protect the interests of the Government.

Q. Are new levies being issued? (updated July 10, 2020)

A. The IRS suspended new automated levies, and new systemic NFTL requests and levies until at least July 15, 2020. The IRS will not issue new levies unless there are pressing circumstances, or the taxpayer has agreed to the action.

Q. What is the date that the IRS considers a lien or levy new? (updated July 10, 2020)

A. Beginning March 30, 2020, the IRS generally suspended the initiation of levies and NFTLs until at least July 15, 2020. "New" levies and NFTLs will not be initiated until after July 15, 2020, unless there are pressing circumstances.

Q. If the IRS issues a release of levy, how long will it take until the funds are available to me?

A. Generally, the IRS will mail or fax a release of levy to the levy source. The timeframe for the release to take effect will be dependent on mail and processing times once received by the levy source. If the levy source will accept a release of levy via fax, the taxpayer may provide a contact or fax number and request a copy of the release be sent via fax.

Q. Will levies and wage garnishments remain in place or will these be paused? Can the taxpayer request a pause? If so, how? (updated July 17, 2020)

A. The IRS will not automatically release levies. The IRS will consider a taxpayer's request to release a levy on a case-by-case basis if the levy is causing an economic hardship. "Economic hardship" means the levy prevents the taxpayer from meeting basic, reasonable living expenses. The IRS may ask for additional financial information to determine if a levy is causing an economic hardship.

If the taxpayer is working with a revenue officer and wants to request a release of levy, they should contact the revenue officer. Taxpayers requiring a levy release who are not assigned to work with a revenue officer should call the telephone number on the notice of levy.

If a taxpayer is unable to get through, they should fax their request to 855-796-4524. The fax should include their name, address and social security number. If they filed jointly please include both social security numbers. In addition, include the name, address and fax number of the taxpayer's employer or bank that is processing the levy. Note: This fax number is only used to address emergency levy release requests. Due to current limited staffing, the IRS will not respond to other issues sent to this fax line.

Q. Will the IRS file Notices of Federal Tax Lien (NFTLs) during the suspension period? (updated July 10, 2020)

A. Generally, the IRS has not filed new NFTLs unless there was a risk of permanent loss to the Government due to pressing circumstances. However, previously filed NFTLs were refiled, amended, withdrawn, or released if appropriate.

Q. What happens with Notice of Federal Tax Lien filings after July 15, 2020? (updated July 10, 2020)

A. The IRS will resume making NFTL determinations and filing new NFTLs following standard procedures after July 15, 2020.

Q. Will the IRS discharge property from the federal tax lien or subordinate its lien interest during the suspension period?

A. The IRS continued to process requests for lien certificates and issue the certificates based on each case's merits. The timeframe to work these requests may be longer than normal due to resource constraints impacted by COVID-19.

Q. What should a taxpayer do if they need a Federal lien release, certificate of discharge, or have another Federal tax lien issue? (updated July 10, 2020)

A. The IRS continues to process all electronically submitted lien certificate applications normally.

The IRS requests taxpayers use the E-Fax line for our ACR site (844-201-8382) for certificates such as: discharge of property from the Federal tax lien; withdrawal of the Notice of Federal Tax Lien; and subordination of the Federal tax lien. Publication 4235, Collection Advisory Group Numbers and Addresses PDF, and IRS.gov have additional information on the process for submitting applications for lien certificates.

Q. What is a CP504 Notice? (updated July 10, 2020)

A. The CP504 Notice lets a taxpayer know if they have an unpaid amount due on their account. If they do not pay the amount due immediately, the IRS will seize (levy) their state income tax refund and apply it to pay the amount they owe.

The IRS will still issue CP504 Notices during the relief period, but the IRS will not issue the Final Notice of Intent to Levy Letter 1058 or LT11, unless there are pressing circumstances, which is required before a levy can be issued.

The IRS will not issue Notices of Levy during the collection suspension period, unless there are pressing circumstances. This includes automated levy programs such as: The Federal Payment Levy Program; the State Income Tax Levy Program; and the Municipal Income Tax Levy Program.

Q. What should I do if I receive a CP 504 Notice? (updated July 10, 2020)

A. Pay the amount due shown on the notice. Taxpayers may pay their balance online or mail their payment to the IRS in the envelope they received. Include the bottom part of the notice to make sure the IRS correctly credits the account. Visit IRS.gov/payments for more information.

If a taxpayer can't pay the whole amount now, they can resolve outstanding liabilities by entering into a monthly payment agreement. Visit IRS.gov/payments for more information about IRS payment options. Most taxpayers will qualify to apply for a payment plan or Installment Agreement online without needing to call or write to the IRS. Note: To protect the health and safety of employees, service may be delayed. The IRS is working to reopen its offices. Check IRS operations and services for the most up-to-date status.

Q. How does this initiative affect the Private Debt Collection program? (updated July 10, 2020)

A. During the suspension period the IRS did not forward new delinquent accounts to Private Collection Agencies (PCAs). PCA interaction with taxpayers is limited to inbound telephone calls (outbound calls only when requested in a voicemail or correspondence) until July 15, 2020. When the taxpayer indicates their ability to pay was affected by COVID, the PCA will place a hold on the account through July 15, 2020. The PCAs will not terminate or modify existing payment arrangements during the suspension period. Taxpayers should resume their payments with the first payment due on or after July 16, 2020 to avoid defaulting.

Q. Are taxpayers with payment arrangements made through IRS contracted Private Collection Agencies allowed to suspend those payments during the COVID-19 suspension period?

A. Taxpayers can make payments on their account at any time. If a taxpayer is not able to make payments during the suspension period from April 1 to July 15, 2020 under the People First Initiative, relief is provided. The private collection agencies (PCAs) will:

  • restrict outbound calls to only when the taxpayer requests a return call in correspondence or via voice message
  • not terminate or restructure an existing payment arrangement
  • suspend payment reminder or missed/late payment letters and telephone calls
  • continue to send reminder notices for the taxpayer's preauthorized direct debit payments which includes instruction on how to cancel or change payments

Q. Can taxpayers request to have their Private Collection Agency account transferred back to the IRS?

A. Taxpayers can request in writing that their account be returned to the IRS and have no further contact from the private collection agency at any time, which is a protection provided under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Q. Will the IRS continue to work bankruptcy-related issues?

A. Yes. The IRS continues to file Proofs of Claim, address automatic stay violations, apply payments, and process and discharge orders.

 

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