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Getting out from under an IRS tax lien: case of a former Cowboy

Terrell Owens is a well-traveled former NFL player whose talent as a wide receiver brought him to several teams over the years. This included a three-year stint with the Dallas Cowboys from 2006 to 2008. Now 39, he last played pro football in 2010.

Somewhere along the way, the explosive receiver with an eye for the end zone encountered problems with the IRS over unpaid taxes. In February of this year, the IRS filed a federal tax lien against him. The IRS contended he owed back income taxes for three separate years: 2005, 2007 and 2009.

But Owens has now paid this tax debt, reportedly in the amount of $430,000.

Terrell Owens is hardly the only prominent athlete or entertainer who has had to deal with tax liens issues. The popular singer Mary J. Blige is facing a large tax lien as well. The IRS claims she owes $3.4 million for unpaid income taxes. We wrote about Blige's case in our May 31 post. 

The broader point is that tax debt and tax liens can affect anyone. Celebrities are only the high profile examples. In practice, virtually anyone, regardless of income level, can run into financial problems that lead to difficulties with unpaid taxes.

And when that happens, the IRS and state revenue agencies can seek to collect back taxes through tax liens.

Of course, tax authorities have other options as well. Wage garnishment, in particular, is a significant stick for tax agencies to wield as they go after back taxes.

In short, the case of Terrell Owens and his tax lien is part of a much larger story on how taxpayers get into, and respond to, tax debt.

Source: Dallas Morning News, "Report: Former Dallas Cowboys WR Terrell Owens pays off $430,000 tax debt," Jon Machota, July 1, 2013

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