WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: IRS Fresh Start Initiative

Over the last couple of years, the pace of federal tax lien filings have decreased.  There are many reasons for this, but one in particular to be aware of is the Internal Revenue Service’s Fresh Start initiative.

Fresh Start is intended to make it easier for individuals and businesses who are struggling to pay their taxes.  It significantly increases the federal tax lien filing threshold from $5,000 to $10,000. This is one of several new changes the IRS made to their lien process that went into effect in February of 2011.

The increase of the threshold and the healthy state of our economy means fewer potential customers.  In 2011 the total number of federal business tax liens filed was about 256,000 down to 171,000 in 2012 and down again in 2013 to 150,000.

For those of you who rely heavily on tax liens for sales leads, there are a couple of considerations:

  1. The number of federal tax liens filed is declining which means you need to make the most out of the leads you have.  Finding a vendor with fresh leads is vital.  Also, using data analytics to predict the leads most likely to close is key to helping focus your sales efforts.
  2. You can now assume that most federal tax liens filed are for amounts $10,000 or greater.  So don’t ignore federal tax liens without totals from your vendor, they may be a good source of fresh leads.


The IRS lien process has changed.  Fewer liens are filed but the average totals are greater.  There are many ways to thrive in this environment with fresh leads and good analytics.  And keep in mind that tax liens are counter cyclical to the economy so when the market falls, lien filing volumes will rise again!

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