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Good afternoon. I am sorry to hear about what you are going through. If he owes that much to the IRS, I am inclined to believe that you would have a hard time just getting him to pay you the money owed. After all, if he would, he would have at least paid you something. With that being said, if you want to strengthen your case, you need to sue him. You need to obtain a judgment and then if he still refuses to pay, try and enforce the Judge by going after any money or assets he may have. The problem is that if the items are his, you can not legally withhold them since you have no legal right to them, in hopes of getting him to pay. Now, if you do this, be aware that he could turn around and sue you even though I am not exactly sure he will. If you wanted to, you could present to have an amount to pay you now, upfront and then agree to release the items, in hopes he agrees.
If he files for BK and you have a judgment against him, it could wipe it out and then you will not be able to collect. It should not present you from suing him though and until he actually files, you should proceed against him. Now, if he did sue you, you could file a counter-claim and ask the Judge to award you what you are owed BUT the Judge may not just allow you to keep the items in satisfaction of the debt. If you refused to turn them over or went ahead an sold his item sand kept the money, then it would have to sue you.
I just wanted to follow up and see if you had any other questions or needed me to clarify something. I am here to help, so please let me know. Thanks!
You can certainly sue him for the money owed. However, showing the Judge that he owes money to the IRS or has other financial problems, is not relevant to him owing you money. The Judge will rely on the evidence that you have. Once you get a judgment, you can then try and garnish his wages
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