26 CFR § 301.6343-1 - Requirement to release levy and notice of release.
(a) In general. A district director, service center director, or compliance center director (director) must promptly release a levy upon all, or part of, property or rights to property levied upon and must promptly notify the person upon whom the levy was made of such a release, if the director determines that any of the conditions in paragraph (b) of this section (conditions requiring release) exist. The director must make a determination whether any of the conditions requiring release exist if a taxpayer submits a request for release of levy in accordance with paragraph (c) or (d) of this section; however, the director may make this determination based upon information received from a source other than the taxpayer. The director may require any supporting documentation as is reasonably necessary to determine whether a condition requiring release exists.
(b) Conditions requiring release. The director must release the levy upon all or a part of the property or rights to property levied upon if he or she determines that one of the following conditions exists -
(1) Liability satisfied or unenforceable -
(i) General rule. The liability for which the levy was made is satisfied or the period of limitations provided in section 6502 (and any period during which the period of limitations is suspended as provided by law) has lapsed. A levy is considered made on the date on which the notice of seizure provided in section 6335(a) is given. A levy that is made within the period of limitations provided in section 6502 does not become unenforceable simply because the person who receives the levy does not surrender the subject property within the period of limitations. In this case, the liability remains enforceable to the extent of the value of the levied upon property. However, a levy made outside the period of limitations (normally ten years without suspensions) must be released unless -
(B) A proceeding in court to collect the liability has begun within the period of limitations.
(ii) Special situations. A continuing levy on salary or wages made under section 6331(e) must be released at the end of the period of limitations in section 6502. However, a levy on a fixed and determinable right to payment which right includes payments to be made after the period of limitations expires does not become unenforceable upon the expiration of the period of limitations and will not be released under this condition unless the liability is satisfied.
(2) Release will facilitate collection. The release of the levy will facilitate collection of the liability. A director has the discretion to release the levy in all situations, including those where the proceeds from the sale will not fully satisfy the tax liabilities of the taxpayer, under terms and conditions as he or she determines are warranted.
(i) Example. The following example illustrates the provisions of this paragraph (b)(2):
(A) The delinquent taxpayer delivers a satisfactory arrangement, which is accepted by the director, for placing property in escrow to secure the payment of the liability (including the expenses of the levy) which is the basis of the levy.
(B) The delinquent taxpayer delivers an acceptable bond to the director conditioned upon the payment of the liability (including the expenses of levy) which is the basis of the levy. This bond shall be in the form provided in section 7101 and § 301.7101-1.
(iii) Expenses of sale exceed the government's interest. If the director determines that the value of the United States' interest in the seized property does not exceed the expenses of sale of the property, a release of the levy will be deemed to facilitate collection of the liability even though the fair market value of property which has been seized exceeds the expenses of seizure and sale.
(3) Installment agreement. The taxpayer has entered into an agreement under section 6159 to satisfy the liability by means of installment payments, unless the agreement provides otherwise. However, the director is not required to release the levy under this condition if a release of the levy will jeopardize the secured creditor status of the United States, e.g., where there is an intervening judgment lien creditor and a notice of tax lien has not been filed.
(4) Economic hardship -
(i) General rule. The levy is creating an economic hardship due to the financial condition of an individual taxpayer. This condition applies if satisfaction of the levy in whole or in part will cause an individual taxpayer to be unable to pay his or her reasonable basic living expenses. The determination of a reasonable amount for basic living expenses will be made by the director and will vary according to the unique circumstances of the individual taxpayer. Unique circumstances, however, do not include the maintenance of an affluent or luxurious standard of living.
(ii) Information from taxpayer. In determining a reasonable amount for basic living expenses the director will consider any information provided by the taxpayer including -
(A) The taxpayer's age, employment status and history, ability to earn, number of dependents, and status as a dependent of someone else;
(B) The amount reasonably necessary for food, clothing, housing (including utilities, home-owner insurance, home-owner dues, and the like), medical expenses (including health insurance), transportation, current tax payments (including federal, state, and local), alimony, child support, or other court-ordered payments, and expenses necessary to the taxpayer's production of income (such as dues for a trade union or professional organization, or child care payments which allow the taxpayer to be gainfully employed);
(C) The cost of living in the geographic area in which the taxpayer resides;
(D) The amount of property exempt from levy which is available to pay the taxpayer's expenses;
(E) Any extraordinary circumstances such as special education expenses, a medical catastrophe, or natural disaster; and
(F) Any other factor that the taxpayer claims bears on economic hardship and brings to the attention of the director.
(iii) Good faith requirement. In addition, in order to obtain a release of a levy under this subparagraph, the taxpayer must act in good faith. Examples of failure to act in good faith include, but are not limited to, falsifying financial information, inflating actual expenses or costs, or failing to make full disclosure of assets.
(5) Fair market value exceeds liability. The fair market value of the property exceeds the liability for which the levy was made and release of the levy on a part of the property can be made without hindering the collection of the liability. The following example illustrates the provisions of this paragraph (b)(5):
(c) Request for release of levy -
(1) Information to be submitted by taxpayer. A taxpayer who wishes to obtain a release of a levy must submit a request for release in writing or by telephone to the district director for the Internal Revenue district in which the levy was made. The taxpayer making the request must provide the following information -
(ii) A description of the property levied upon;
(iv) The date of the levy and the originating Internal Revenue district, if known; and
(v) A statement of the grounds upon which the request for release of the levy is based.
(2) Time for submission. Except in extraordinary circumstances, a request for release of a levy must be made more than five days prior to a scheduled sale of the property to which the levy relates.
(3) Determination by director -
(i) When required. The director must promptly make a determination concerning release prior to sale in all cases where a request for release of a levy is made except those where the request for release is made five or fewer days prior to a scheduled sale of the property to which the levy relates.
(ii) Time for making required determination. The determination will be made, generally, within 30 days of a request for release made 30 or more days prior to a scheduled sale of the property to which the levy relates. If a request for release is made less than 30 days prior to the scheduled sale but more than 5 days before the scheduled sale, a determination must be made prior to the scheduled sale. If necessary the director may postpone the scheduled sale in order to make this determination.
(iii) Discretionary determination. The director has the discretion, but is not required, to make a determination concerning release prior to sale in cases where a request for release of a levy is made five or fewer days prior to a scheduled sale of the property to which the levy relates.
(4) Notification to taxpayer of determination. The director must promptly notify the taxpayer if the levy is released. If the director determines that none of the conditions requiring release of the levy exist, the director must promptly notify the taxpayer of the decision not to release the levy and the reason why the levy is not being released.
(d) Expedited determination with respect to certain business property -
(1) General procedure -
(i) Submission by taxpayer. If a levy is made on essential business property as is described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section, the taxpayer may obtain an expedited determination of whether any of the conditions requiring release of the levy exist. In order to obtain an expedited determination, the taxpayer must submit, within the time frame specified in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, the information required in paragraph (c)(1) of this section and include with the information an explanation of why the property levied upon qualifies for an expedited determination of whether a condition requiring release of the levy exists.
(ii) Time for making required determination. The director must make such a determination by the later of 10 business days from the time the director receives the request for release, or 10 business days from the time the director receives any necessary supporting documentation, if 10 or more business days remain before a scheduled sale of the property to which the levy relates. An expedited determination concerning release must be made prior to sale in all cases where a request for release of a levy is made within the time frame specified in paragraph (c)(2) of this section. If necessary the director may postpone the scheduled sale in order to make this determination.
(iii) Discretionary determination. The director has the discretion, but is not required, to make an expedited determination concerning release in cases where the taxpayer does not submit, within the time frame specified in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, the information required in paragraph (c)(1) of this section and include with the information an explanation of why the property levied upon qualifies for an expedited determination of whether a condition requiring release of the levy exists.
(2) Essential business property defined. For purposes of this section, essential business property means tangible personal property used in carrying on the trade or business of the taxpayer which when levied upon prevents the taxpayer from continuing to carry on the trade or business.
(3) Seizure of perishable goods. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply in the case of a seizure of perishable goods. Those seizures are governed by the provisions of section 6336 and § 301.6336-1.
(e) Effect of a release of levy. If property has not yet been surrendered to the director in response to a levy, a release of the levy under section 6343(a) will relieve the possessor of any obligation to surrender the property. Otherwise, a release of a levy under section 6343(a) will cause the property to be returned to the custody of the person or persons legally entitled thereto. The release of a levy on any property under this section does not prevent any subsequent levy on the property. Section 301.6343-2, dealing with return of wrongfully levied upon property, is subject to section 6402 which prohibits the Internal Revenue Service from refunding a payment of money that has been deposited in the Treasury and credited to the taxpayer's liability unless there is an overpayment.
(f) Effective date. This section is effective as of December 30, 1994.