All IRS collections can eventually lead to lien or levy. The U.S. government wields the most powerful lien and levy power imaginable should it choose to use it.
An IRS levy permits the legal seizure of your property to satisfy a tax debt. It can garnish wages, take money in your bank or other financial accounts, seize and sell your vehicle(s), real estate and other personal property.
A federal tax lien is the government's legal claim against your property when you neglect or fail to pay a tax debt. The lien protects the government's interest in all your property, including real estate, personal property and financial assets.
A lien secures the government's interest in your property when you don't pay your tax debt. A levy takes the property to pay the tax debt.
A levy is usually an emergency and may actually happen before you receive a notice in very rare situations. You may be able to have the levy released, however the reasons are varied and complicated. Certain extremely limited items are exempt from levy. After the levy proceeds have been sent to the IRS, you may file a claim to have them returned to you, but the items don't have to be returned in the same form and they may not be returned quickly, if at all. You may also appeal the denial by the IRS of your request to have levied property returned to you, but if you still owe and have not resolved the issues, return is unlikely.
For both liens and levies, you are usually entitled to an administrative appeal hearing, CAP, a Collection Due Process or Equivalency Hearing, within 30 days; read your notice carefully.
Generally, If the IRS has decided to levy your property, you need additional emergency assistance to communicate with the IRS; otherwise additional collection action is likely. Tax attorneys specialize in this assistance.