IRS and Massachusetts DOR Levy / Wage Garnishments
A levy is a legal seizure of your property to satisfy a tax debt. Levies are different from liens. A lien is a claim used as security for the tax debt, while a levy actually takes the property to satisfy the tax debt.
If you do not pay your taxes (or make arrangements to settle your debt), the IRS may seize and sell any type of real or personal property that you own or have an interest in. For instance,
- The IRS can seize and sell property that you hold (such as your car, boat, or house), or
- The IRS can levy property that is yours but is held by someone else (such as your wages, retirement accounts, dividends, bank accounts, licenses, rental income, accounts receivables, the cash loan value of your life insurance, or commissions).
The IRS usually will levy only after these three requirements are met:
- The IRS assessed the tax and sent you a Notice and Demand for Payment;
- You neglected or refused to pay the tax; and
- The IRS sent you a Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to A Hearing (levy notice) at least 30 days before the levy. The IRS may give you this notice in person, leave it at your home or your usual place of business, or send it to your last known address by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested.
A wage garnishment is a levy against your wages.
The Massachusetts DOR has similar procedures to seize your property.