IRS collection involves a range of potential issues, including personal liability for unpaid employment taxes, requesting innocent spouse relief from liabilities, negotiating alternatives to full payment of tax liabilities, assisting with lien discharges and subordinations, and seeking penalty abatements.

Offers in Compromise

Colvin + Hallett attorneys evaluate a taxpayer’s financial position to determine if a client is a candidate for an Offer-in-Compromise (OIC), which is an agreement with the IRS that allows a taxpayer to settle a debt for less than the amount owed depending on a client’s income, expenses, and assets. We prepare the offer and negotiate it through the appeals process if necessary.


Assisted high-net worth client obtain favorable Offer-in-Compromise that wiped away almost a million in outstanding liabilities, despite existence of significant/substantial assets.

Obtained OIC for clients with criminal tax convictions that resulted in compromise of over $1 million in tax liabilities.

Obtained an OIC for physician, compromising more than a half million in liabilities for less than $50,000.

Installment Agreements

Colvin + Hallett’s attorneys regularly secure installment agreements with the IRS for clients who cannot fully pay their taxes currently. We will evaluate a client’s financial position and negotiate with the IRS for an advantageous installment agreement, which in some cases will not fully pay the tax liability and relieve the taxpayer of the remaining liability.

Innocent Spouse

We advise married, separated, or divorced taxpayers as to their eligibility for innocent spouse relief, and represent them through the exam, appeal, and litigation processes.


Obtained innocent spouse relief for client whose ex-husband failed to file and pay tax liabilities of nearly $300,000 during their marriage.

Mark G. Strom v. Comm’r, No. 16258-08.  Represented client in suit seeking innocent spouse relief from an $80 million tax liability attributable to his wife’s receipt of stock options because he relied on a tax opinion and therefore had no knowledge of any understatement of tax on the joint tax return.  Colvin + Hallett represented the client from the filing of the innocent spouse claim through trial.  The decision is pending.

Represented client in IRS audit and argued that client was entitled to relief from community property rules under section 66, a code section similar to the innocent spouse rules.

Penalty Abatements and Relief

We represent clients through the entire process of seeking penalty abatements, including the initial review by the IRS and any appeal. Our attorneys analyze the facts and develop the legal arguments establishing reasonable cause as to why penalties should not apply.


Successfully argued at Appeals that over $300,000 in failure to pay penalties should be abated based on reasonable cause where, had client paid the liability, client would have suffered undue financial hardship because he was unable to liquidate investments to pay as a result of the financial crisis.

Secured $300,000 penalty concession in case involving failure-to-file penalties.

Persuaded IRS to fully concede failure-to-file and failure-to-pay penalties assessed against the client

Obtained full concession of a $125,000 penalty assessed by the IRS for intentionally failing to file information returns.

Liens & Levies

Colvin + Hallett represents clients when the IRS files liens, Notices of Intent to Levy, or actually levies the client’s bank accounts, wages, or other assets. We thoroughly evaluate each case and advise regarding the best course of action, which could include seeking release of the levy, entering into a collection alternative such as an installment agreement or Offer in Compromise, or filing an appeal. We also advise clients who would like to sell or refinance properties that are subject to an IRS lien, and can assist in obtaining a lien discharge or subordination.

Trust Fund Investigations and Assessment

If a business has unpaid employment taxes, the IRS will almost always attempt to assert personal liability against the owners and other responsible individuals for the trust fund portion of the unpaid employment taxes.  Colvin + Hallett represents clients through the entire trust fund investigation, including the IRS’s request to interview the client.  We analyze the facts of the case and develop factual and legal arguments to persuade the IRS not to assert the penalty. We also help clients appeal proposed trust fund assessments.


Secured full concession from the Revenue Officer at the investigative stage that husband of construction business owner, who worked for the company, was not personally liable for the company’s unpaid employment taxes.

Obtained full concession of the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty at Appeals for owner of a commercial refrigeration business.

Secured full concession at Appeals that the CEO of roofing company was not liable for the company’s unpaid employment taxes.

Successfully persuaded IRS Appeals to concede trust fund recovery penalty proposed against founder of construction company.

Millennium Tower
719 Second Ave., Suite 711
Seattle, WA 98104