What is a Levy?

Updated on March 22, 2022

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Levy definition and meaning

A levy is a legal seizure of property which authorities such as the IRS, state treasury departments and banks use to satisfy a tax debt. It grants control over the debtor’s bank accounts, personal property or rights, and can include an employee’s wages.


More about levies

The IRS usually follow four steps before they issue a levy:

  • They assess tax which is owed and send a notice with a demand for payment, also known as a tax bill
  • An individual neglects or refuses to pay the tax
  • The IRS typically sends a final notice of intent to levy and the individual’s right to a hearing at least 30 days before the levy
  • Finally, the IRS sends advance notification of third party contact which notifies the debtor they might contact third parties regarding the determination or collection of the tax liability


Levies can include IRS property seizure of items such as a house or vehicle but can really be any property you own or may have an interest in. For example, retirement accounts and bank accounts are usually fair game. Sales proceeds typically go toward an individual’s tax debts.

Using levy in a sentence

“Tax professionals are able to submit appeals and negotiate agreements on behalf of levied individuals.”

Terms related to: Levy

Articles and resources related to: Levy

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