Magazine article American Banker

Joint Accounts May Be Seized for Taxes, Says Supreme Court

Magazine article American Banker

Joint Accounts May Be Seized for Taxes, Says Supreme Court

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court by a 5-to-4 vote Wednesday gave the Internal Revenue Service broad authority to seize funds from a joint bank account in order to satisfy the tax liabilities of one of the depositors.

Justice Harry A. Blackmum wrote the majority opinion, which stated that the IRS in a levy proceeding "acquires whatever right the taxpaper himself possesses." Under state law in this case, the court said, that includes the ability to withdraw all the funds in the joint account.

The Supreme Court decision reverses lower court rulings that before th government can require a bank to turn over funds from a delinquent taxpayer's joint account, it must first provide that taxpayer's interest in the account.

The IRS is authorized by law to collect taxes of a delinquent taxpayer by levy upon property. The court decision Wednesday will make it easier for the government to collect millions of dollars in back taxes it claims are in several hundred thousand joint bank accounts each year. …

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