If you have an IRS tax debt, chances are the government has filed a Federal Tax Lien (FTL) against you to protect its interests, especially if the debt is greater than $10,000. The FTL becomes public information and any number of non-attorney tax relief companies begins sending advertisements. Many of our clients have come to us with a sizeable stack of mailers, and I am rather disgusted by the way these bottom-feeders try to trick taxpayers into calling them. Often these mailers are designed to look like official government otices.
Tax relief firms are normally successful in obtaining the following information from the public record:
- name of taxpayer
- address of taxpayer
- lien type (i.e., Federal / State)
- lien amount
- lien filing date
The hope is that the taxpayer will recognize the information, see that it is accurate, and then call to get some kind of government-sponsored reduction of the liability. At least that is what they would have you believe.
It is easy to identify a deceptive tax lien mailer if you know what to look for. One of the “red flags” is repetition of information. The sample mailer that I included in this post repeats a United States Code section three times. The “personal ID number” is also repeated three times. Phrases like “please read carefully” and “final notice” are also repeated to add urgency. It is also common to see a phone number repeated two or three times, but often no address. And finally, maybe the biggest red flag is an “estimated settlement amount.” There is no way anyone could estimate what the IRS might settle a case for based on the limited information contained in a Federal Tax Lien.