What Is the IRS Collections Process?

People not paying their taxes is a very serious issue for the IRS. It's something that we as taxpayers call the tax gap. The IRS collection process is an increasingly serious step of collection measures designed to get people in compliance and make sure they stay in compliance. One of the reasons people complain about penalties and interest so often is they're a deterrent that the IRS uses to make sure that you don't owe money on your taxes. When you see liabilities rise by 25, 30, 40 % or even higher, it's going to make you think twice about not paying your taxes, but the IRS doesn't just issue penalties and interest.

The IRS starts by taking increasingly serious actions such as garnishing your wages, levying your bank accounts, putting liens against your property and a whole host of other measures designed to force you back into compliance. Usually the IRS will give you a lot of latitude and opportunity to resolve your tax issue within reason, but one of the favorite sayings of the revenue officers that we deal with is that the IRS is not a bank. So it's not giving you a loan on your taxes to pay for other things. Therefore what ends up happening is a disconnect between the IRS calling the terms of its loan so to speak and between what most people consider ordinary and reasonable living expenses. Most of the job that we do as a tax firm in defending clients against the IRS collection process is translating their circumstances in terms the IRS will respect and understand. So as you move through the process, the more you step out in front of it and the more you mitigate your liability will go a long way to avoid some of those more serious actions.


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law