By Patrick Temple-West
WASHINGTON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Internal RevenueService said on Friday that it has stopped initiating new assetseizures from tax delinquents during the government shutdown andis enforcing seizures only in "extremely limited" instances.
During the shutdown, the "IRS is not sending out levies orliens," an agency spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters.
Under tax law, the IRS can seize property from U.S. citizenswho have not paid their taxes. Known as levies, such seizurescan target bank account balances, real estate or other assets.
Levies are different from tax liens. A lien is a claim usedas security for a tax debt, while a levy actually takes theassets or property to satisfy the debt.
Any levies or liens a taxpayer might receive during theshutdown were printed before the IRS closed, the agency said.
Tax professionals had expressed concern that the governmentshutdown had left tax delinquents defenseless against IRS assetseizures.
IRS staffers who assist delinquent taxpayers in defendingthemselves from collectors have been furloughed, while some IRStax collectors who pursue individuals and businesses that aredelinquent are still working through the shutdown.
The shutdown, now in its fourth day, has furloughed morethan 90 percent the IRS's 94,000-person workforce.
The only enforcement actions the IRS is undertaking duringthe shutdown involve criminal cases or non-criminal "isolatedinstances where we need to take immediate action to protect thegovernment's interest," IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge said.
"For criminal issues, most IRS Criminal Investigationemployees continue to work during this period," Eldridge said.
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