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Merlo, Accountant
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 9783
Experience:  25+ years tax consulting. Specializing in returns for US citizens living abroad
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I just received a bill from a collections agency claiming that

Resolved Question:

I just received a bill from a collections agency claiming that I owe Virginia income taxes from 19 years ago. I have lived oustide Virginia for the last 15 years, and if I owed state taxes to Virginia 19 years ago I have long since forgotten about it or assumed that my ex-wife paid it. Question -- can they still collect this?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Merlo replied 7 years ago.

Hello JA Customer,

The state of Virginia must be on a house cleaning mission to clear up old tax debts, as we have had numerous questions come through this forum the last couple of weeks about the very same issue. I know this will not help your situation, but I ran across a web site the other day with posts from hundreds of people on this very same issue, and I thought you might find it interesting to at least know you are not alone in this.

As far as the collection of tax, Virginia has a statute of limitations of 20 years to collect taxes from the date they were finally assessed. Please refer to the following link from the Virginia Code that outlines this statute.

You do, however, have the right to deal directly with the state on this issue rather than the collection agency. If you would prefer to do so, simply write the collection agency a letter stating your intentions to deal with the state on this matter.

The state has apparently turned over a large number of old tax debts to this collection agency, which in my opinion leads me to believe that for all practical purposes they have written off their collection attempts due to the age of these debts. If that is the case and you choose to deal directly with the state, it is possible at this point that they might be willing to accept an offer to settle the debt for a lesser amount than they show is due.

If this has been helpful please press the Accept button. Positive feedback is also appreciated.

Thank you



Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Thanks for the response. Since I am dealing with a collection agency and not the state, can I assume that the collection agency cannot garnish or file a lien since there has never been any judgment on this? If the tax was ever owed (and I have no records of my tax returns going back that far) it was just owed as a result of a tax return and there was never a judgment. SO, again, since it is a civil, private collection agency, can I assume that at least there is not lien or levy possible here if I just ignored it?

THanks in advance for the help,

Expert:  Merlo replied 7 years ago.

Hello again JA Customer,


The collection agency cannot place any liens or levies against your assets or wages without a court judgment. It is highly unlikely they will ever do anything except hound you with correspondence and phone calls, which I realize can be irritating. Personally if it were me I would simply ignore them for now -- although as I stated earlier, you do have the right to deal with the state directly rather than the collection agency.


You could simply write the agency a letter and tell them you intend to deal directly with the state, and they should then stop contacting you. Once that is done, my guess is you won't hear anything from the state itself, as they have no interest in taking this to court with it being 19 years old.


If this was helpful please press the Accept button.


Thank you JA Customer



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