Georgia Taxing Information
FiFa Lien - FiFa Tax Lien
A Fifa Lien or FiFa Notice (technical name: Fieri Facias) This collection notice informs the taxpayer (or non-payer) that their account has been assigned to the Compliance Division. This Notice of FiFa Lien is recorded at the county and/or state level, is a "public record," and will negatively impact your credit. If the tax liability has gone unpaid, it will be assigned to a collections revenue officer at the state, or to a private debt collection agency.
This is the first stage of aggressive collections, and allows the government to have legal right to levy or seize assets at a later time. Additionally, your account may be placed with a private collection agency for further action.
Priority One: Stopping Aggressive Enforced Collections
The state can take money out of your bank accounts, up to the amount of money owed to them. This is called a bank levy. Banks are required by law to comply with a bank levy if the money is there. There is, however, a holding period during which you may get money back. The state may also offset your tax debt by applying refunds due to you, and also a refund due to you from the IRS. If you have had a bank levy, or anticipate that one is likely, seek professional advice.
The state of Georgia may outsource the collection of delinquent taxes to a debt collection company. If you are contacted by a collection company, claiming that you owe taxes, verify their identity prior to divulging any personal information such as social security numbers, bank accounts, or tax ID numbers.
When an account reaches this stage of the collection process, up to a 20% collection fee may be added to the liability.
A Proposed Assessment is the first notification from the state of Georgia about its intent to assess interest and/or penalty to a delinquent payment or return. Failure to pay or protest this notice within 30-days of issuance will result in the issuance of an Official Assessment and Demand for Payment.
The Official Assessment and Demand for Payment is a notification that the Department has assessed interest and/or penalty to a delinquent payment or return. Failure to pay or protest this notice within 30 days will result in enforced collection and the imposition of a collection fee.
Collection Notice informs that a taxpayer's account has been assigned to the Compliance Division, and if payment is not received immediately a collection fee will be imposed and a State Tax Execution (FiFa) will be executed.
In situations when the entire amount cannot be paid in full, the state will consider an installment agreement to pay off the tax liability, including penalties and interest. Depending upon the amount owed and whether it is an individual, business, or both, the required forms and financial statements required vary. The first payment must be by automatic debit from your bank account. This allows the state to more easily access (levy) your bank account at a later time if you fail to make payments.
Offer in Compromise
If you cannot afford to pay back your entire liability, you may qualify for an Offer in Compromise. The Georgia Offer in Compromise (OIC) program closely resembles the IRS's OIC program:
- There must be either a "Doubt as to Collectability" or "Doubt as to Liability".
- You may not be in bankruptcy.
- Penalties and interest continue to accrue until an offer is accepted.
- Any money collected while the offer is being considered, will not reduce the payoff of the offered amount.
The Offer in Compromise is a program for those who cannot afford to pay what the government claims is owed, but it is also a very difficult package to properly prepare. The state will reject any Offer in Compromise where it is determined that the taxpayer's offer does not maximize the collection of the debt for the state.
You may have a qualified professional represent you before the state of Georgia. This requires that you have a Power of Attorney form completed and signed before any tax matter can be discussed with your representative. The state of Georgia accepts the Department of Revenue Power of Attorney form for this purpose.
Rights and Appeals
You have rights within the collection process, but failing to respond to an assessment notice by the deadline may void those rights. You can appeal an assessment within 30 days if you disagree with it. The appeal must be made in writing and detail why you disagree with the state's findings. You may also request an informal hearing to present your case to the state.
Your employer is legally obligated to comply with a garnishment request. A wage garnishment can remain effective until your back-tax liability is paid. If your wages are being garnished, or you have been warned that a garnishment is possible, seek professional advice.