Can the IRS file a lien without going to court?

A taxpayer searching around the internet asked this question. It is a very good question because it asks about the reach — and the limits — of the IRS’s power to reach into our lives whether we like it or not.

Liens 101: What is a Lien, Anyway?

For those unfamiliar with the term, a “lien” is essentially a claim — someone claims you owe them money.

In certain situations, the person (or business, or government agency) making the claim can file a document announcing this claim with the County Clerk or other public records authority.

By filing a lien with the County Clerk, the claimant announces to the world (and especially to credit reporting agencies) that the claimant says you owe it money.

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Church Sound Man To Face Taxman’s Music

Nashville, TN — A Tennessee man who operates a business installing complex sound systems in church auditoriums nationwide, pled guilty to two counts of failure to pay federal income tax. As part of his plea, he admitted that he owes the federal government more than $300,000.

After admitting guilt in August, 2008, the sentencing hearing took place in January 2009. The court sentenced Charles Grecco, 44, of Franklin, Tenn, to serve 6 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release, and to pay restitution of $300,141.82 to the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the government, Grecco failed to pay more than $67,000 in federal income taxes for years 2001 and 2002 which was only two of the six tax years involved.

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