WASHINGTON — In its latest effort to help struggling taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service today announced a series of new steps to help people get a fresh start with their tax liabilities.

The goal is to help individuals and small businesses meet their tax obligations, without adding unnecessary burden to taxpayers. Specifically, the IRS is announcing new policies and programs to help taxpayers pay back taxes and avoid tax liens.

“We are making fundamental changes to our lien system and other collection tools that will help taxpayers and give them a fresh start,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “These steps are good for people facing tough times, and they reflect a responsible approach for the tax system.”

Today’s announcement centers on the IRS making important changes to its lien filing practices that will lessen the negative impact on taxpayers. The changes include:

Significantly increasing the dollar threshold when liens are generally issued, resulting in fewer tax liens.
Making it easier for taxpayers to obtain lien withdrawals after paying a tax bill.
Withdrawing liens in most cases where a taxpayer enters into a Direct Debit Installment Agreement.
Creating easier access to Installment Agreements for more struggling small businesses.
Expanding a streamlined Offer in Compromise program to cover more taxpayers.

“These steps are in the best interest of both taxpayers and the tax system,” Shulman said. “People will have a better chance to stay current on their taxes and keep their financial house in order. We all benefit if that happens.”

This is another in a series of steps to help struggling taxpayers. In 2008, the IRS announced lien relief for people trying to refinance or sell a home. In 2009, the IRS added new flexibility for taxpayers facing payment or collection problems. And last year, the IRS held about 1,000 special open houses to help small businesses and individuals resolve tax issues with the Agency.

Today’s announcement comes after a review of collection operations which Shulman launched last year, as well as input from the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council and the National Taxpayer Advocate.

IRS Announces New Effort to Help Struggling Taxpayers Get a Fresh Start; Major Changes Made to Lien Process

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