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What are IRS levies on bank accounts?

Bank levies are legal orders to banks/financial Institutions to remit any funds in the accounts to the IRS/State tax agency that issued the levy.

How did my accounts get levied?

Tax agencies use a taxpayers ITIN (usually a Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number of a business) to go after accounts opened with that ITIN. Any accounts connected to your ITIN/SSN are subject to bank levies due to taxes owed under your ITIN.

What if the accounts aren’t even mine?

If you are a co-signer or on your spouse’s or even friend’s bank account their accounts and income can be seized by a bank levy.

Can I use my bank account?

The way bank levies are supposed to work is that only the funds in the account at the time the bank levy is received should be frozen. Any later deposits should not be included in the levy.

WARNING! Some smaller banks do not understand well how bank levies work and will erroneously freeze deposits made after the bank levy is received.

You should be able to use your bank account normally after the levy is received except for the funds that were in the account the levy was received.

The funds in the account that are ‘frozen’ are only held for a short time until sent to the taxing agency that issued the levy. Once the funds are sent it is MUCH harder to get the funds returned.

Can I get my money back?

To get your money back – SPEED of response is the most important thing. We have had taxpayers hire us a day or two before the time runs out on the levy. It is much harder to lift a levy with little time.

Maybe. This depends on how FAST you respond and your financial situation. We often get money released but this is a race against the clock.

TIME is of the essence. The IRS bank levies allow for 21 days from when the bank gets the levy to contest the levy before the funds are sent to the IRS. 

State tax agencies often only allow only 10 business days before the funds are supposed to be sent to the State tax agency.

Summary

Bank levies can really hurt a taxpayer, clean out their savings and take their paycheck. To fight a bank levy call a Tax  Professional right away and make sure they understand the urgency of the situation. We get bank levies released all the time but the sooner you call the more likely you will get your money back!