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Glossary of Tax Debt Terms


Back Tax


This relates to unpaid tax that is past its due date for payment to the IRS.


Bank Levy


Where the IRS freezes deposits held in a bank account. It can seize funds from the account after 21 days to satisfy tax debts owed by the account holder.




A taxpayer can receive various penalties often in the form of charges and interest typically in respect of tax debts.


Tax Abatement


A tax abatement is a reduction in tax or tax waiver. Tax, interest, and penalty abatements are typically approved through special tax relief programs or as the result of valid reasons provided by a taxpayer.


Tax Levy


A tax levy can be used if you owe money to the IRS and occurs when the IRS takes possession of your property to pay off your tax liability.


An IRS notice of levy is an act showing the intention of seizure of the property.


Tax Liens


A federal tax lien may be used by the IRS for a failure to pay delinquent taxes owed on real property or personal property, or income taxes.


A tax lien is placed on a property such as a home to secure the payment of taxes.


An IRS payment plan without tax lien may be possible if the IRS agrees the tax debt can be paid off with other sources of finance.


Unlike a tax levy, a federal tax lien is not a seizure of property but the IRS statutory right in order to secure the payment of a tax. It is used to safeguard IRS tax debt.


Wage Garnishment


A court order for an employer to withhold a stated amount from an employee wage paycheck for taxes owing.


Articles & Features

How to Get Back Tax Relief

You can get some relief from back taxes owed by negotiating a reduction in tax debts with the IRS or an agreement to extend the duration to pay off the tax.


What are Wage Garnishments?
Find out about wage garnishment and how they can be used by the IRS to recover tax debts.


Offer In Compromise
Taxpayers who satisfy certain criteria may receive an offer in compromise or tax reduction from the IRS on their tax liability.