What I’ve Learned from I.R.S. Attempts to Levy My Bank Account

I received a notice of levy from the IRS. (Form 8159 — Taxpayer’s Copy of Notice of Levy.)

In , they levied an account I was in the process of closing, and ended up with about five dollars. In they levied another bank account and emptied it out to the tune of about $4,350. This new levy is the first one since then.

They’re trying to get $1,385 and they’ll probably get it all, as I have more than that in this account.

This should effectively close out my delinquent taxes for , with them managing to seize all of what I didn’t pay in those years, plus interest and penalties. They don’t seem to be trying to chase me down for what I didn’t pay last year. I think this must be because I had to file a corrected return because they incorrectly modified the return I filed in  — see The Picket Line for for details about that — and this corrected return is probably still making its way through the system.

The three accounts they’ve gone after are three accounts for which they would have gotten 1099 forms reporting interest in previous tax years. That’s no big surprise.

The total they’ve seized includes $4955 in delinquent taxes and $814 in interest and penalties. (This includes the seizure of a small, incorrectly refunded California state tax payment, if you’re wondering why these numbers don’t all add up right.)

What have I learned?

  1. that the IRS will come after accounts it learns about via 1099s
  2. that the amount of time that passes between levies varies, in the case of my three levies, from one month to six
  3. that once it’s started issuing levies the agency will try to keep going until it runs out of delinquent taxes to pursue or sources to levy, even if the amount being pursued falls to a fairly low level
  4. that if a corrected tax return is still being processed, even if the ultimate tax shown on the return is not being disputed, this may put the collection process on hold for that return

If you’re wondering why I’m bothering to resist taxes in this way, since the government has been effective at seizing the money with icing on top anyway, see The Picket Line for for an in-depth look at some of the reasoning behind this.

The Malaysian news website Malaysiakini has a “Vox Populi” column. One participant there recently asked:

As a Malaysian tired of the events unfolding every day, can we, the helpless rakyat [roughly, “people” — ], organise something to tell our politicians that we are sick of their behaviour? How about we all refuse to pay the income tax in ?

Another responds:

The refusal to pay the income tax suggested here is a legitimate method of civil disobedience advocated by Henry David Thoreau (), American naturalist, philosopher, and author of the book Walden and an important essay “Civil disobedience.”

Thoreau had a major influence on leaders of non-violent resistance, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tax resistance on a large scale may be difficult to organise for now, but if the government deteriorates into a police state that fans racial or religious emotions, civil disobedience, including tax resistance, may be the only way to go for Malaysians to organise effective resistance while avoiding deep scarring of the society.

A third joins in:

I do not think Malaysians should waste anymore time and effort to argue or convince other Malaysians that the present BN government and all their machinery are corrupt as hell.…

If the BN MPs are still undecided on crossing over, then we should strongly persuade them to do so by all means. A suggestion to stop paying taxes until this govt is removed can also be explored.

We can’t do this alone but in numbers we can. Instead of street demonstration, why not take leave from work. They can’t sack us all if all of us were to act. We are given a second chance to change things and our destiny.

If we fail to exercise our rights and choice at this opportunity, then be prepared to live another generation of misery and abuses. It boils down to a simple choice, really. God will not help us until we start helping ourselves.

There’s some similar discussion going on elsewhere on the site as well.