NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

IRS Legal Actions To Collect Taxes Plummet

February 3, 2000

The law passed in 1998 to curb Internal Revenue Service abuses has slashed the number of liens, garnishments and property seizures conducted by the agency.

  • From 1997 to 1999, property seizures skidded 98 percent -- from 10,090 to 161.
  • Garnishments on wages and bank accounts fell 86 percent -- from 3,659,417 in 1997 to 571,500 last year.
  • Liens placed on assets declined 69 percent -- from 543,613 to 167,867.
  • In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, IRS officials predicted that enforcement actions against delinquent taxpayers will rise this year over last year's levels -- but only barely.

Moreover, annual face-to-face tax audits have fallen 40 percent -- to 464,000 since passage of the IRS reform act.

Revenue collected through enforcement actions has fallen 13 percent -- or $5 billion -- since 1996. But, according to the IRS Commissioner, that is not entirely due to the reforms. The IRS work force has fallen 16 percent since 1992, to 98,000.

Source: Owen Ullmann, "Reformed IRS: Property Seizures Down 98 Percent," USA Today, February 3, 2000.


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