The IRS filed a federal tax lien against Robert De Niro, stemming from $6.4 million in unpaid tax liabilities from the 2013 tax year. The lien was filed on February 3, 2015, and the actor paid the balance in full three weeks later.
The 71 year old actor, best known for starring in films like Raging Bull and Goodfellas, claims that he was unaware of the notices send by the IRS for the past few months, as he has multiple residences and does not check the mail at all of them on a regular basis.
The IRS files a federal tax lien after a tax assessment is made and the taxpayer neglects or refuses to fully pay the liability. The lien attaches to all of the taxpayer's property, including real estate, personal property, and financial assets. To get rid of a tax lien, the taxpayer generally must either pay the liability in full or wait for the ten year statute of limitations to expire on collections. If the total liability is under $50,000, the IRS may be willing to forego the filing of a lien (or discharge an existing lien) provided the taxpayer enters into a direct debit installment agreement to pay the balance in full over time. In other situations, the IRS may agree to subordination of the lien. This does not remove the lien, but allows other creditors to move ahead of the IRS, for purposes of securing a loan or mortgage.
In addition to the filing of liens, the IRS has various enforcement tools available. They can garnish wages, levy bank accounts, seize tax refunds, or foreclose on assets. If you receive a Notice of Intent to Levy from the IRS, you should contact a tax attorney to avoid different payment arrangements that are available, including Installment Agreements, Offers in Compromise, or Currently Not Collectible status.