First, it is important to understand the difference between a tax lien and a levy. An IRS or Oregon Department of Revenue (ODR) tax lien is a formal public notice—to anyone who knows where to look—that you owe taxes. A lien attaches to your property and affects your rights to the property. When a tax lien iNew Website Home page picture full resolution filed or recorded it can hurt your credit. A lien does NOT involve the direct taking of money or property from you. An IRS levy or ODR garnishment/seizure does involve their taking of your property—your real estate, personal property, or money owed to you. The most common ones by far are levies or garnishments on money owed to you by others—your paycheck being paid to you by your employer or money held in your bank or credit union accounts.
In some circumstances a chapter 13 bankruptcy is a better strategy for dealing with past due taxes. Indeed, as my last blog post explained, a Chapter 7 case can be a powerful tool in dealing with past due taxes. A chapter 7 stops, at least briefly, any pending IRS or Oregon Department of Revenue (ODR) paycheck or bank account garnishment, and most other collection actions. And, most importantly, a Chapter 7 case can either: 1) discharge (legally write off forever) certain, usually older, income tax debts; or 2) discharge enough of your non-tax debts so that—after your Chapter 7 case is completed— you can afford to enter into a reasonable monthly payment plan with the IRS and/or the ODR on the taxes that can’t be discharged; or 3) a combination of the above two—discharge some of your tax debt, along with some or all of your other debts, so that you can afford to enter into a monthly payment plan with the IRS and/or ODR on the taxes that can’t be discharged.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a very powerful strategy for dealing with past due income taxes. A Chapter 7 can stop a tax garnishment, discharge older tax debt, and allow you to pay off newer taxes. A Chapter 7 will stop the IRS, the Oregon Department of Revenue (ODR), and/or any other state or local tax entity from garnishing your bank accounts and paychecks. The filing will stop a threatened tax lien from being recorded against your home and will stop threatening letters and phone calls for at least 90 days after the filing, and, in some cases, forever.
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