WASHINGTON — A government watchdog says the Internal Revenue Service is tormenting struggling taxpayers in the midst of a slumping economy by increasing the number of liens the agency has filed against people who owe back taxes.
The IRS filed nearly 1.1 million liens in the budget year that ended in September, a 14 percent jump over the previous year. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson says the liens punish taxpayers and often hurt their ability to pay back taxes.
The IRS responded that liens are not filed until taxpayers are given numerous opportunities to pay their tax bills, or sign up for payment plans.
IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge said the agency has taken numerous steps to help taxpayers facing financial problems, including increased flexibility in installment agreements and other collection efforts.
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