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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

November 2, 2010
TIGTA - 2010-71
Contact: Karen Kraushaar
(202) 622-6500

The IRS Should Improve Its Procedures and Effectively Coordinate With United States Attorneys' Offices When Dealing With Foreclosures

WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was inconsistent in how it processed foreclosure cases and coordinated with local United States Attorneys' Offices (USAO), according to a report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

When a taxpayer fails to pay taxes owed, the IRS may attach a claim to a taxpayer's real property - a claim known as a Federal Tax Lien. The IRS files a Notice of Federal Tax Lien (NFTL) in appropriate local government offices, notifying interested parties that a lien exists on the property. When property has a Federal Tax Lien attached, the IRS may collect proceeds from a foreclosure sale to cover the taxes owed.

A foreclosure is either judicial or non-judicial. The USAO is responsible for protecting the Federal Government's interest in judicial foreclosure sales, while the IRS is responsible for protecting the Federal Government's interest in non-judicial foreclosure sales. Although the IRS does not have the primary responsibility to protect the Federal Government's interest in judicial foreclosure proceedings, it must coordinate such proceedings with the USAO.

TIGTA reviewed whether the IRS effectively and efficiently protects the Federal Government's interest during foreclosure proceedings when an NFTL has been filed. TIGTA found that the IRS could improve its coordination with the USAO for judicial foreclosures. TIGTA also found that the information the IRS provided to the public for submitting a timely notice of sale for non-judicial foreclosures was inconsistent with the Internal Revenue Code.

"As home mortgage foreclosures have increased, reaching record levels, it is imperative that the IRS comply with laws, policies and procedures to ensure that American's rights are protected," said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. "The IRS must make every effort to improve its foreclosure procedures, including better coordination with the United States Attorneys' Offices," he added.

TIGTA made five recommendations to the IRS in its report, and the IRS agreed with all of those recommendations.


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