Most consumers do not have any federal debt. Federal debts are normally reserved for federal programs and initiatives. However, there are two cases in which you may owe the government money--taxes and student loans. It is relatively simple to find out if you have debts in either case. Federal debt is serious and if you do have some, you must take immediate steps to begin repayment.
IRS Tax Debt
Pull a copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com (see Resources). Internal Revenue Service debts will not show up as lines like a credit card, but rather as judgments or liens. This means they are seriously past due. Look for any IRS debt on your credit report.
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Contact the local office of the IRS. If you have a large amount of federal debt, you may want to hire a tax attorney first. The federal government takes IRS liens seriously--they can garnish your wages and put liens on your house.
Verify the total amount outstanding with an IRS agent at a local office. Take the time to work out a repayment agreement, either as a lump-sum or monthly payment arrangement.
Federal Student Loan Debt
Review all of your student loan documents. The federal government provides several varieties of federal loans including subsidized Stafford Loans, unsubsidized Stafford Loans, and the William Ford Direct Loan program.
Pull a copy of your credit report to confirm the federal student loans. (You can obtain a free copy of your credit reports once a year--see annualcreditreport.com in the Resources section). Look at the open trade lines on your report--if any of the student loans is a federal loan, you have federal debt.
Review your student loan monthly statements. There will be contact information on the statement. Call the customer service number to confirm the total amount you have outstanding on all federal debts.
Make sure you are paying on time. Federal student loans must be repaid--even bankruptcy protection usually does not eliminate a student's responsibility to repay student loans.