Retrieving seized property can be as easy or as difficult as the circumstances surrounding the seizure. If the property was seized as evidence in a criminal investigation, it should be returned upon resolution of the case. If it was taken due to your own criminal actions, chances are, it is permanently lost to you. However, if the IRS is the agency that has taken your property due to non-payment of taxes, you may have recourse. You should have been afforded several opportunities to stop the procedure before losing your property. It isn’t unheard of, however, for that particular government agency to make a mistake or two or fail to notify you of the impending seizure because it did not have current contact information for you on file. Once you’ve lost the property, you may still be able to get it back.
Seized, but not lost forever
Contact the IRS directly. Even after the property has been seized, it is not necessarily lost to you forever. The IRS will hold your property for a time, upwards of 45 days, before it sells it off in dissolution of the case. If you believe your property was taken unjustly, you will need to quickly hire a tax attorney to enjoin the agency from selling off your property. If you concede that the agency has accurate information regarding your tax obligation, you can still speak to the IRS regarding a settlement. Do this yourself or contact a tax accountant or tax attorney. It will cost you a bit, but may serve you better in the long run. A reputable, competent accountant probably already has a relationship with IRS agents and will know the ins and outs of the Internal Revenue Service better than you.
Negotiate. Have you or your tax professional approach the agent in charge of your case with an offer of partial payment. Agents are usually willing to work with taxpayers and may accept less than the debt amount for which your property has been seized. Oftentimes the amount you owe represents considerable penalties and interest and therein is the wiggle room. Ask–it does not hurt you and can save you quite a bit of money.
Offer to pay your debt in full in exchange for the return of your seized property.
Make payment arrangements to pay off the debt over time in return for your property.
Buy back your property once it has reached the public auction forum. This will be difficult, if not impossible, if the IRS has seized your assets. How can you buy something for which you have no money?
Buy the property (in the case of real estate) back from the successful bidder at the public auction. You can inform the judge in your case that you intend to purchase the property back from the new owner. You have this right and 180 days in which to do it, paying the new owner his bid price plus interest.