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Can the irs arrest me if I cant satisfy thier tax lien?

Atlantic City, NJ |
Filed under: Tax law

I owe 24,00 dollars in back income taxes

Attorney Answers 4


Unless you hide assets from the IRS, or lie to them, you are not going to go to jail because you owe $24,000 in back taxes.

Of course without knowing all of the facts no tax lawyer can advise you on whether or not you have committed tax fraud.

The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California. Responses are based solely on California law unless stated otherwise.

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The IRS cannot simply decide to arrest you because you owe back taxes. If they want to arrest you, it must be for committing a crime.

The IRS can seek to prosecute someone for any one or more criminal tax charges. Before an IRS-Criminal Investigation Division can seek to do that, he or she must write up a report, get it approved by their immediate supervisors and eventually by IRS HQ.

Then the report would be submitted to the U.S.Attorney's office that covers the area where the person lived or filed taxes. The U.S. Attorney's office can prosecute the allegations as a criminal offense or decide not to. If it decides not to, the matter would be referred to an attorney at the Department of Justice Tax Division, to see if someone from the Tax Division should be appointed to prosecute this.

Once the decision to prosecute has been made, the prosecutor can decide to present the matter to the Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury returns an indictment, the prosecutor can ask that a warrant be issued. THEN, the IRS Special Agent could arrest the person charged.

There are, of course, many detail (and some alternatives) that I have deliberately omitted. The point is that the IRS cannot just come and arrest you because you owe them money.

In fact, it is unlikely that a tax debt of $24,000 would be sufficient to gain the attention of the criminal investigators unless some egregious conduct was involved -- far more than simply owing some back taxes.

As to your tax debt, it may be worthwhile to consider applying under the IRS's "Offer in Compromise" program.

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The IRS does not have the authority to arrest someone for an unpaid lien. With very few exceptions, IRS agents can not arrest anyone with the approval of a federal judge. In order to get before a judge, the IRS must first convince the U,S. Department of Justice that it has an extremely viable criminal case. Not just in the strength of the evidence but also in jury appeal. Generally, $24,000, while a lot of money, doesn't have the strong jury appeal that DOJ is looking for. The fact that the IRS filed a lien suggests that they have decided not to arrest you.

However, there are still ways that this can change. The principal way is if the IRS believes that you are lying to them, such as by hiding assets or income. You should not ignore any notices which you receive especially if the notices come from Court.

A competent attorney can advise you once you have disussed all the facts. Good luck.

THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.

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It is not a crime to simply not pay your taxes. As long as you have filed your tax returns and not committed any other crimes you cannot be arrested for a tax lien. Contact a local tax attorney to make sure you have not committed any other tax crimes.

Any individual seeking legal advice for their own situation should retain their own legal counsel as this response provides information that is general in nature and not specific to any person's unique situation. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Advice given in this response cannot be used to eliminate penalties with the IRS or any other governmental agency.

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