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Some of our clients or others we know of have received scary looking letters called a “distraint warrant” and referring to the fact that a “warrant” was issued against them. Usually, these clients have a tax issue with a debt owing to the IRS or a state tax authority.
An actual notice from the IRS usually has a certain format and the IRS logo on the top left, such as a CP504 notice. However, these “distraint warrants” are usually not sent from any actual agency. They are sent from a private company scaring consumers into calling them.
Why do they have my information?
How did they get your information? Usually, if you have a distraint warrant, it is become you may have a Notice of Federal of Tax Lien filed against you from the IRS. In some cases, you may have had a state tax notice filed against you. Some states, like New York State, actually also call their tax liens as a tax warrant as well. However, to our knowledge, there is no official notice called a “distraint warrant”.
A Federal Tax Lien is public record – it will usually be recorded in your local county recorder’s office based on the address which the IRS has on file for you (last known address). These public records are sometimes compiled by companies and used for marketing purposes. In this case, the “distraint warrant” is sent to scare you into calling a company to sell you services.
Should I worry about a distraint warrant?
The actual “distraint warrant” itself – no; it is usually not a real notice. However, if you have one filed, it means you have an underlying tax issue. If you have not already figured out your tax issue, know that usually a lien comes as a step before the IRS takes additional enforcement action. Unless you already took a step which you knew a lien would be filed (such as obtaining a “Currently Not Collectible” status), we recommend calling a tax professional to see exactly what your options are and what you need to do to resolve this.