The Internal Revenue Service has published two Frequently Asked Questions about how taxpayers can seek release of tax levies and federal tax liens due to hardship circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The FAQs can be found at the bottom of the IRS web page entitled “IRS Operations During COVID-19: Mission-critical functions continue,” which is available here.

According to the FAQs, tax levies will not be automatically released because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the IRS will consider taxpayer requests to release levies on a case-by-case basis if the levy is causing an economic hardship.  “Economic hardship” means that the levy is preventing the taxpayer from meeting basic, reasonable living expenses.  The IRS may ask for additional financial information to determine if a levy is causing an economic hardship.

The FAQ provides detail on how to request a levy release.  If the taxpayer is working with a revenue officer, they should contact the revenue officer.  For cases not assigned to a revenue officer, taxpayers should first call the telephone number on the notice of levy.  If the taxpayer is unable to get through on the number (which is unlikely given that all IRS customer service phone lines are closed), the taxpayer should fax a levy release request to (855) 796-4524.  The levy request must include the taxpayer’s name, address, and social security number (including spouse if they filed jointly), as well as the name, address, and fax number of the taxpayer’s employer or bank where the levy is being processed.  The IRS cautions that this fax number will only be used to address emergency levy release requests.

The IRS has published a second FAQ addressing how taxpayers can address issues relating to federal tax liens, including how to obtain a lien release or certificate of discharge. The IRS says that it is processing all electronically-submitted lien certificate applications normally and assigning them within 10 days. To protect the health and safety of IRS employees and taxpayers, the IRS is not currently processing lien certificate applications sent by regular mail to the Advisory Consolidated Receipts location in Florence, Kentucky. Instead, the IRS requests that taxpayers fax requests to (844) 201-8382 for certificates such as discharge of property from a federal tax lien; withdrawal of the notice of federal tax lien; and subordination of the federal tax lien.

Please check out Fox Rothschild’s coronavirus resource page, which is available here.

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