How Long Does IRS Have to Collect Back Taxes? Former Agent Explains

How Long Does IRS Have to Collect Back Taxes? Former Agent Explains

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Michael Sullivan Fresh Start Tax Expert


Generally, 10 years. I am a former IRS agent and teaching instructor. I can review your case file with you to determine the period of time.  Since 1982.


To find out the official period of time that is left on your statute you will need to pull an IRS tax transcript, we can help with the process and evaulate  the transcript and let you know your official statutory time left that IRS has has to collect back taxes.


The Internal Revenue Service has a statute of limitations based on the amount of time in length that IRS has to collect a back tax debt.

The Internal Revenue Service cannot voluntarily extend the statute of limitation on their own, conditions must exist.

The general rule, there is a ten-year statute of limitations on IRS collections.

For 90% of all taxpayers the tenure statute of limitation  of 10 years will probably be the rule of thumb.

The main  the exceptions to the rule that extend the statute of limitations  you will find  below.

We have over 65 years of professional IRS work experience and are experts in determining the dates of assessment and the point in time in which IRS will forgive a tax debt.

This 10 year peroid begins from the date of the assessment.



It is important to know the date of assessment begins when the IRS accepts your tax return in prices that on their computerized system.

Technically, the  assessment is the statutorily required recording of the tax liability.

Assessment is made by recording the taxpayer’s name, address, and tax liability.

The assessment date is the 23C date or 150 date. You can find of those on your tax transcripts. We are experts in reading tax transcripts and establishing your legal date of assessment.

The 23C date is the Monday on which the recording of assessment and other adjustments are made in summary manner on Form 23C and signed by a Service Center officer.


As a general rule it can be anywhere from five days to six weeks from the day you actually filed your tax return. A lot is dependent whether you e-file or send it in manually by snail mail to the Internal Revenue Service.


To find out what your date of assessment is it will be necessary to pull an IRS transcript to officially verify the date. without an official IRS tax transcript is impossible to determine

Your assessment date. as clients a fresh start tax we can provide all this necessary information to you and help determine the official date of assessment to find out if the statute of limitations has expired on your IRS tax debt.


Exceptions to the ten-year statute of limitations rule apply.

You need to check.



The CSED, in a case under the Bankruptcy Code, is suspended while the Service is prohibited by reason of the case from collecting, and for six months thereafter.



Per IRC 6502(a), a court action brought against the taxpayer prior to the expiration of the collection statute extends the period to collect until the tax liability or judgment against the taxpayer is satisfied or becomes unenforceable.

Suit to Reduce Assessments to Judgment


In order for a suit to reduce the assessments to judgment and suspend the collection period, it must be filed prior to the CSED. The filing of a suit will suspend the collection statute during litigation

Collection Due Process (CDP)


The CSED is suspended from the date the Service receives a timely filed request for a CDP hearing to the date the taxpayer withdraws their request for a CDP hearing or the date the determination from Appeals becomes final, including any court appeals.

If 90 days is not remaining on the statute of limitations when the determination becomes final, the statute of limitations is extended to equal 90 days.

The collection statute is not extended for equivalency hearings.

Offer In Compromise


For offers pending prior to January 1, 2000, the CSED extension was affected by Treasury Regulation § 301.7122–1(f) (1960). Under this regulation the practice of the Service generally was to obtain from the taxpayer a waiver of the CSED for the period the offer in compromise was pending, while any installment of an accepted offer remained unpaid, and for one additional year thereafter.

For offers pending prior to January 1, 2000, a waiver of the CSED cannot extend the CSED beyond either December 31, 2002, or the original CSED, whichever is later, pursuant to section 3461(c)(2) of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98).

For offers pending on or made after December 31, 1999, suspensions of the running of the CSED in the offer in compromise context are governed by statute, specifically by IRC 6331(k)(1) and (3).

Under these provisions, the Service is prohibited from levying, and the CSED is suspended

While an offer is pending with the Service,

For 30 days immediately following rejection of the offer, and

For the period that a timely filed appeal of a rejection is being considered in Appeals.

CSED extensions for the period of time “while any installment remains unpaid” and “for one additional year thereafter” are eliminated.

Installment Agreements – Partial Payment Installment Agreements With Form 900, Tax Collection Waiver


Form 900, Tax Collection Waiver, is only executed in connection with the granting a partial payment installment agreement and only in certain situations.

Waiver Procedures for Partial Payment Installment Agreements. IRS policy dictates that a Form 900 be limited to no more than five years, plus up to one year to account for changes in the agreement. Note:Prior to July 2005, IRS policy permitted CSED extensions in conjunction with all installment agreements.

Effective March 9, 2002, the CSED is suspended during:

The time the proposed installment agreement is pending,

Thirty days following the rejection of a proposed installment agreement,

Thirty days following termination of an installment agreement, and,

Any appeal of the termination or rejection of the installment agreement.


This change is not retroactive. The suspension of the running of the collection statute is during the time that a levy is prohibited. The CSED is not suspended while an installment agreement is in effect.


Relief From Joint And Several Liability On Joint Returns/Innocent Spouse


Collection by levy or a proceeding in court against a spouse is suspended for the requesting spouse when he or she makes a qualifying request under IRC 6015(b), and/or IRC 6015(c).

Collection is suspended for claims filed under IRC 6015(f) if the liability was unpaid as of December 20, 2006, or the liability did not arise until after December 20, 2006. For more information see IRM, Statute of Limitations on Collection.

The collection period is suspended from the filing of the claim until the earlier of the date a waiver is filed, or until the expiration of the 90 day period for petitioning the Tax Court, or if a Tax Court petition is filed, when the Tax Court decision becomes final, plus, in each instance, 60 days.

If a request for relief is made in response to collection due process procedures, there is also suspension of collection activity and the collection period provided for by IRC 6330(e) for the period during which any administrative hearings, and appeals therein, regarding the levy are pending.

The rules for suspension under IRC 6330 differ from IRC 6015.

In general, the latest suspension of collection and the collection period should control, which may require analyzing the suspension under both IRC 6015 and IRC 6330 where relief from joint and several liability is requested as part of an IRC 6330 hearing.

If the requesting spouse signs a waiver of the restrictions on collection, the suspension of the period of limitations on collection against the requesting spouse will terminate 60 days after the waiver is filed with the Service, limiting the CSED extension to the period from when the claim was filed to the time the waiver was signed, plus 60 days.

A request for reconsideration is not a qualified request for relief for purposes of Treasury Regulation §1.6015-1(h)(5), and does not trigger the restrictions on collection pursuant to section 6015(e)(1)(B) or the suspension of the collection period of limitation under section 6015(e)(2).


Taxpayer Living Outside the U.S.


The period of limitations on collection after assessment is suspended while the taxpayer is outside the United States if the absence is for a continuous period of at least six months per IRC 6503(c) .

To make certain that the Government has an opportunity to collect the tax after the taxpayer’s return, the period does not expire (where the taxpayer has been out of the country for six months or more) until six months after the taxpayer’s return to the country.

As the application of this provision can result in the CSED being suspended for a very long time, policies for the administration of this code section are now established.

Call us today for a free initial tax consultation we will be able to pull your transcripts and determine the length of time that IRS has to collect your back tax debt.


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  • This is information that answers very common questions; taxes affect everyone. I had been told that if the IRS files the return, there is no statute of limitations. But your statement (that the same 10 year statute of limitations applies) makes more sense. I think you are right.

  • John Pollard

    The statutory period can be extended by a filing of bankruptcy. For instance – you file a timely tax return for the tax year 2004 – (due 15 April 2015) while you are in the middle of a bankruptcy. If the taxes are not discharged during your bankruptcy the statue does not begin to “toll” or start until you are out of your bankruptcy. Given the example above – if your bankruptcy ends in 2009 the IRS has 10 years plus 6 months from the date your bankruptcy is dishcharged to collect the taxes due on your 2004 tax return. If you never file a tax return for a given year the IRS has forever to collect the taxes. If you need a copy of your tax payment record you can request one from the IRS.

  • mark

    The IRS filed FOR ME for the year 96…. in 2005 they filed a tax lien in court, i recently got a tax return check ? Its been 18 yrs.. am i safe from that debt ? I never keep much money in bank or stocks for fear of it being taken ? any help would be great

    • John Pollard

      You , or your agent can request from the IRS the status of the tax year – specifically the date after which the IRS can no longer collect the tax. If you don’t want to do this yourself , hire an accountant or an attorney or an IRS enrolled agent.

  • Carol

    We owe for two old tax years. About 30000 total. We lost a son and my husband lost his job. then when the housing market went to heck my contract for my job wasn’t renewed. My husband has since become disabled and dosent have an income. We made 100 dollar per month payments but the debt just keeps going up. Then the IRS cancelled our installment agreement saying we weren’t paying enough. Is there any way we can get a break on what we owe due to serious hardship. We are trying to sell our house and cant afford the IRS taking most of the equity we would get. We need to get the liens removed. And if they take the full amount this would leave us in a position where we wouldn’t have enough down payment couldn’t qualify to get into a smaller house.

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