Tax Dictionary – Levy
A levy is a legal seizure of your property to satisfy a tax debt. Levies are different from liens. A lien is a legal claim against property to secure payment of the tax debt, while a levy actually takes the property to satisfy the tax debt.
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A levy is an IRS enforced collection action. When the IRS levies you, the IRS seizes (takes) your income or property to pay a tax debt.
This is different from a tax lien, which doesn’t take your property, but secures rights to it.
There are three requirements for a levy:
- Notice and demand for payment
- Notice of intent to levy, and
- Notice of a right to a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing
The IRS issues most levies after it has made several attempts to collect the taxes with a series of notices. Thirty days after the Final Notice of Intent to Levy (Letter 1058 or LT11 notice), the IRS can seize your property.
The IRS sends most levies to employers to garnish wages until the tax has been paid or you make other payment arrangements to pay. The IRS also commonly levies bank accounts. The IRS can also levy other income sources, such as Social Security payments.
The best way to avoid a levy is to get into a payment agreement with the IRS if you owe back taxes.
Liens and levies are tools the IRS uses to collect back taxes. Learn more about each one -- and how to avoid tax liens and levies by working with the IRS.
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