Tools the IRS Uses to Collect Your Unpaid Tax Debt

The IRS has several ways to collect taxes when people fail to pay them.  However, they will try to resolve the issue with you by sending several letters before taking more punitive action.  If you owe back taxes, do not ignore the letters you will receive from the IRS.  Contact your CPA for help so that you can avoid these measures!


  1. Garnish Wages: Each year, the IRS receives a copy of the W-2 issued by your employer so they know where you work. The IRS can notify your employer and make them withhold additional tax which will be applied to your balance due.
  2. Garnish Social Security:  As awful as that sounds, the IRS can and does garnish Social Security payments if other collection measures have not yielded a response.
  3. Levy Bank Accounts: If you have an interest-bearing account, or have used your bank account for Covid Economic Impact (Stimulus) payments, then the IRS has your bank information.  They can place a levy on the funds in your account by sending a notice to the bank.  The bank then holds your funds for 21 days before sending it to the IRS.
  4. Liens:  The IRS will often file a lien against your house or other property.  This is done primarily to put the IRS in a position to get paid should you sell the property.  The lien can be subordinated so that you can obtain a refinance in order to pay the IRS.


Honorine Campisi, CPA