The IRS Files a Federal Tax Lien against Me

The IRS has filed a federal tax lien against me. They could have done this years ago, so it’s something of a mystery as to why they waited so long. They may have decided to strike now because the oldest of my unpaid federal tax amounts will hit the statute of limitations and become uncollectible in a few months, or it may be because the total amount they’re after me for has popped over the $50,000 threshold and that has made them kick things into a higher gear.

The letter announcing the tax lien came to me by certified mail , but I wasn’t around to sign for it so didn’t have a chance to look at it until I picked it up at the post office .

The lien itself was filed by the IRS in our local County Recorder’s office back on .

The lien pursues me for amounts for tax years , but peculiarly does not seem to cover the entire amount for any of those years. I can go to the View Your Tax Account feature at the IRS website to get the latest figures of my account balances. Compare that to what the agency is seeking from me in their lien:

YearMy Tax AccountTax Lien
53,389.8750,437.23
20075,971.685,732.50
20091,932.501,863.87
20105,984.575,772.02
20116,048.275,833.45
20126,384.136,157.39
20138,381.438,083.75
20147,582.577,126.38
20156,449.965,689.67
20164,654.764,178.20

I don’t know how to explain the discrepancy. It’s much too large for it to be just the result of interest and penalties that have accumulated since the lien was filed. Maybe the process of filing a lien is so lengthy that those figures represent accurate numbers from months and months ago when the process began.

How does this affect me? If I owned any serious property, this could be one step in the IRS’s attempt to seize it from me. I don’t, so this isn’t much of a worry. I suppose they might try to seize payments from my business clients or royalties from the sales of my books, but I think they could have done that anyway if they were on top of things.

This lien will likely show up on my credit report, so if I had any plans to try to finance any big purchases, that could get in my way.

If I were to win a court settlement, inherit an estate, or in some other way come into money in a way that’s mediated by the government, the IRS would be likely to intervene and take the money for themselves.

I’m not sure what will happen if the statute of limitations strikes my 2007 account before they are able to collect. Will the whole lien be invalidated at that point, or will I need to challenge it for that to happen, or will the agency refile the lien with new totals?