May 01, 2017

The Legal Consequences of Noncompliance with Federal Tax Laws: Collection

Allen D. Madison

Reprinted with permission from The Tax Lawyer, Fall 2016 (70:1), at 367–402. Copyright © 2016 American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.


Last month, we published the first portion of an article written in The Tax Lawyer about the start of the tax collection process.  This month we are publishing another portion of the article dealing with the processes used by the IRS to collect.  This will be continued next month as well.  We hope you enjoy it.




In determining whether to comply with the tax laws, a taxpayer must consider that the government may forcibly take the tax. The Service may collect the tax owed with interest where the amount remains unpaid.31 The Service’s administrative collection authority is extraordinary.32 The Service’s assessment is analogous to a judgment on which the government may collect without going to court.33 In Bull v. United States, the Supreme Court explained the rationale for expedient collection of taxes:

[T]axes are the lifeblood of the government, and their prompt and certain availability an imperious need. Time out of mind, therefore, the sovereign has resorted to . . . drastic means of collection. The assessment is given the force of a judgment, and if the amount assessed is not paid when due, the administrative officials may seize the debtor’s property to satisfy the debt.34


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