evidently notices were being sent to an old address and never forwarded
Contact the IRS, a CPA, or a tax attorney.
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The IRS has a duty to send notice to your "last known address." This would generally be the address you put on the last return filed. You would correct it the next year when you filed a return. If you haven't filed a return in a while, then they have an old address and sending notice to this address is all the are required to do by law. If you have been filing your returns, and put your new address on your returns, then you can argue that it wasn't sent to your last known address, but I would get a tax attorney to challenge this. The IRS won't listen to you claiming that is what happened.
But my guess is that it has been a while since you have filed. And when you do that, they file for you and send notices to places you haven't lived for years. If this is the case, you need to retain a tax attorney.
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You may be able to resolve the issue by contacting the IRS and showing them evidence that you never received any notices. However, you'll need to be very convincing about it as the IRS is required to give notice, not necessarily to make sure the notice actually gets to you. You may also have some success in entering into a payment arrangement with the IRS until you can address the actual issue. Don't forget to take a serious look at the actual tax return giving rise to the tax liability. It may be possible to amend the offending return and adjust the underlying tax liabilty. We often find that the return giving rise to the problem does not take advantage of all possible deductions and when amended, can reduce or eliminate the tax liability. If you're not very familiar with the tax code and your options, you'll want to use a tax professional to assist.
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To add to the other responses, although you may not have received the previous notices, you will still have to address the IRS levy notice. If you contact the IRS or obtain professional help in dealing with the IRS, you may be able to enter into a collection alternative to the levy/garnishment of your wages for the balances you owe. You may be required to file delinquent returns first if you have not filed for some time and have a filing requirement. However, time is of the essence. If you are able to enter into a payment arrangement with the IRS, your employer will receive a release of levy notice from the IRS.
This answer or response should not be considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. This answer or response does not create an attorney-client relationship.
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