Do I Really Have to Repay the IRS for Old Debt?


Dear Jim,

Over 23 years ago I owe the IRS $6000 for an overpayment/refund from them.
Over the years that amount was changed with penalties and interest is now
$200000 or more. Now I 72 years old and have been receiving SSN with a
garnishment payment every month. Last year they took $2000 out. I need
that money to help me live. What option do I have to stop it and how?

How to stop IRS garnishment removed from SSN payment?


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It is very unusual for a person to still have an amount owed to the IRS from 23 years ago (Why? because the IRS’ collection statute expires in 10 years).

You should contact IRS collection (1-800-829-7650 – they are open now!) and ask why you still owe this amount. If the amount owed is valid and you do not have the ability to pay the IRS (based on your finances), you will need to provide them some of your financial information to get into a collection agreement (not collectible status, payment plan, etc.) and ask to have the social security levy released.

If you have a financial hardship, you may also want to consider an IRS Offer in Compromise to settle your tax bill. You can find more about the OIC program here.

Your situation requires that you have a clear understanding of why you still owe. Also, if you have a hardship, you should contact your local taxpayer advocate for help – they can be found here.


Jim Buttonow, CPA/CITP, practices in the area of IRS and State tax controversy. He has more than 29 years of experience in IRS practice and procedure. Reach Jim at jim@buttonowcpa.com or through his website www.buttonowcpa.com
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