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Federal tax liens not always sent to a current address

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This is the conclusion the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reached in a recent report. The oversight agency has a title that is a mouthful and even long as an acronym - TiGTA. It performs important work, however. It audits IRS work and suggests changes when it finds errors. In the recent review, it looked at a sample of 162 undeliverable lien notices.

Of concern were nine lien notices that were sent to old addresses even though the agency had the taxpayer's new addresses. While nine might not seem like many, even a figure less than one percent on a small scale could indicate systemic issues on the broader scale.

What can you do?

If you owe back taxes, you need to deal with the issue as soon as possible. There are programs available that can often help you avoid a tax lien and seizure of your property.

Divorcing spouses need to closely monitor tax matters. In several of the cases, lien notices went only to the primary spouse instead of the primary and secondary spouse on the tax return.

Failure to send Notice of Federal Tax Lien (NFTL) to representatives noted

A taxpayer representative - a CPA, tax practitioner or tax attorney - is also supposed to be copied on correspondence. This did not occur in 37 cases within the sample. TIGTA estimated out that close to 23,000 taxpayers could have been adversely affected by this type of error.

Changes to the way things are currently completed will ensure these important notices get to the right places. A programming change was suggested to account for spouses or ex-spouses with joint liabilities. This would require IRS employees to search for a last known address of the secondary spouse. Several other recommendations will also be implemented in an attempt to avoid these errors in the future.

If you first learn of a tax lien when you are selling a property, speak with a tax attorney to learn how best to deal with the issue.

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