Greenville Tax Levies Attorneys
Avoid Tax Levies with Our Help
Owing money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or any tax authority is never ideal. A myriad of scenarios can result in your owing more than what you can afford to pay. Unfortunately, tax authorities can leverage powerful and damaging tools to compel you to pay. One of these mechanisms is the tax levy, which allows the government to seize and sell your property.
Our Greenville tax levies lawyers at Southeastern Tax Advocates are committed to helping our clients avoid the most serious consequences of tax debt. We are a subsidiary of Merline & Meacham, P.A. , which has been serving South Carolina since 1970. Our experienced team will work closely with you to determine and implement a strategy for avoiding and stopping federal and state tax levies. You will have direct access to an attorney throughout our firm’s handling of your case.
How Federal and State Tax Levies Work
A tax levy is a seizure of your assets to pay an outstanding tax debt. Both the IRS and the South Carolina Department of Revenue have the legal ability to carry out tax levies when certain conditions have been met. Levies can continue, within certain restrictions, until your tax debt is satisfied in full.
It is important to note that levies are not liens. Liens are legal claims placed on property, such as real estate, to secure payment before the encumbered asset can be sold or transferred. Levies involve the immediate seizure and sale of an asset.
If a tax lien is placed on your real estate, you can continue living in or using it – but you will have to pay or settle your tax debt and release the lien before you can sell or transfer ownership of the property. If the IRS or SC Department of Revenue levy your property, they will forcibly and legally take ownership of it from you.
Which Assets Can the IRS Levy?
The IRS or SC Department of Revenue can levy many types of assets, including:
- Your real estate
- Your wages (also known as “wage garnishments”)
- Your bank and certain retirement accounts
- Your vehicles
- Other types of personal property (including jewelry, artwork, and heirlooms)
- Rental property income
Generally, the IRS and SC Department of Revenue will target your financial accounts and monetary assets before going after your physical property. Levying your real property or vehicles typically requires court permission and involves more work, as physical assets must be sold.
There are limitations to what the IRS and SC Department of Revenue can levy. Assets obtained after a levy has been issued are shielded from that levy. For example, if the IRS levies your bank account but you receive new funds in that account after the levy, the IRS cannot touch the new funds without obtaining a new levy.
Which Assets Can the IRS Not Levy?
The IRS or SC Department of Revenue cannot levy:
- A certain portion of your income
- Unemployment benefits
- Certain types of disability benefits
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Income necessary for child support payments
- Tools of your trade (up to a certain value amount)
- Furniture (up to a certain value amount)
Levies are an extreme form of collections and tax agencies will often view them as a last resort. This means you should have numerous warnings that a levy may be imminent, thus giving you opportunities to contact a legal professional and explore settlement options.
If you pay your taxes on time and in full, the IRS or SC Department of Revenue cannot levy your property. Unfortunately, it can be easy to find yourself with an overwhelming amount of tax debt, especially if you were unable to file on time or pay the amount owed when it was due.
You become in danger of being subject to a federal or state tax levy when you owe money to a tax authority. Damaging collection actions, including levies, can occur more quickly when dealing with the IRS or SC Department of Revenue than a typical creditor.
These government agencies do not necessarily need to secure judgments before carrying out certain types of levies. However, you should still have some warning that a levy is coming.
Once the IRS or SC Department of Revenue has noticed that you owe a tax debt, they should send you a Notice and Demand for Payment. This is effectively your tax bill, and it will outline the amount you owe (plus late fees and interest) and when the full amount must be paid.
If you receive a Notice and Demand for Payment and know you cannot pay the bill, you should immediately contact our Greenville tax levies attorneys.
If you do not pay the balance in full or pursue a settlement by the document’s stated deadline, the IRS or SC Department of Revenue will begin to explore more drastic collection actions. Should they choose to pursue a levy, the IRS must provide you with a Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to a Hearing at least 30 days before that levy takes effect. This Notice might be served to you in person or left at your last known address via registered or certified mail.
The Final Notice of Intent to Levy is your last chance to get ahead of and prevent a levy. If you receive this document, the IRS fully intends to levy your property and you must take action if you wish to protect your assets. You may permanently lose any levied assets if you take no action.
It is always advisable to try and prevent a levy from occurring rather than responding to one after it has already taken effect. Levies cannot be reversed, meaning that any seized assets will in most circumstances be permanently lost. For example, if the IRS levies funds in your bank account you will almost certainly not be able to get that money back – even if you work out a compromise that reduces your overall tax obligation.
To prevent an imminent levy or stop an ongoing levy, you must pay or settle your tax debt. You will also generally need to complete any unfiled tax returns. Since paying in full may not be possible, you will need to negotiate directly with the IRS or SC Department of Revenue.
Our Greenville tax levies lawyers can assist you with negotiating:
- Offers in Compromise. This remedy allows you to “settle” your debt for less than what you originally owed. To qualify, the IRS must determine that you have no other means of reliably paying the entirety of your original obligation.
- Penalty Abatements. You may qualify for a reduction or elimination of failure to file or failure to pay penalties if you had reasonable cause for your late filing or payment.
- Installment Agreements. You can potentially pay off your tax debt over a period of 72 months or fewer. Though interest will continue to accrue, you can enjoy reduced late payment penalties.
- Partial Payment Installment Agreements. These plans also involve paying off tax debt over time, but you will only need to pay installments based on what you can currently afford. The IRS will determine the appropriate amount based on your current disposable income, but negotiations can impact the IRS’s determination.
Once you begin negotiating a repayment plan, you can request that any imminent or ongoing levies cease. In most cases, the IRS and SC Department of Revenue will stop all collection activities once an agreement is in place.
Our team at Southeastern Tax Advocates are prepared to help you prevent and overcome tax levies. We can help you explore and implement a variety of tax debt relief strategies and can help you negotiate a plan with the IRS or SC Department of Revenue.
 Southeastern Tax Advocates is a subsidiary of Merline & Meacham, P.A. All client cases will be handled by an attorney of Merline & Meacham, P.A. who primarily practices in one of our offices at 812 East North Street, Greenville, SC 29601 or 723 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC 29201.
Any result the law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
“I have known and worked with Verne McGough, for years. As a fellow attorney but in a different field of practice, he is the ONLY tax attorney to whom I will refer anyone. He is organized, prompt, and extremely knowledgeable in his field.”- Eydie T. (Attorney, Not a Client)
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