An IRS levy can be a very unpleasant experience. Unlike a lien, which is a claim against your property, a levy is outright seizure. Often a bank account is the target of an IRS levy, with all funds up to the full amount of the tax debt being frozen and transferred to the government. The IRS can also levy wages, personal property and real estate as well.
Be proactive. The IRS does not surprise taxpayers with a sudden levy. By law they must issue a Demand for Payment of a tax debt and then a separate Notice of Intent to Levy. The best time to contact the IRS regarding a levy is before it happens rather than disregarding these initial notices. Each notice will include a phone number that can be used to address the impending levy, but if one is not present you can call (800) 829-1040.
Formally appeal. Form 12153 is used to appeal a levy and request a Collection Due Process hearing. The form must be sent to the address listed on the Notice of Intent to Levy and must be postmarked by the 30-day deadline provided on the notice.
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Consult your advocate. The IRS maintains local taxpayer advocates by state that are available for consultation from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday. Contact the advocate closest to you, or call the national hotline toll free at (877) 777-4778. The advocate can assist you in forming a payment plan that can avoid or release the levy.