Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter VI. Distraint.


§ 47–4471. Distraint.

(a) If a person determined to be liable to the District of Columbia for a tax neglects or refuses to pay the tax within 10 days after notice and demand, the Mayor may collect the tax, with interest and penalties thereon (and an amount sufficient to cover the expenses of the levy), by levy upon all property (including rights to property) of the person or on which there is a lien provided in this chapter for the payment of the tax. Levy shall be made upon the accrued salary or wages of an officer, employee, or elected official of the District of Columbia, or an agency or instrumentality of the District of Columbia, by serving a notice of levy on the employer of the officer, employee, or elected official. If the Mayor finds that the collection of the tax is in jeopardy under § 47-4451, notice and demand for immediate payment of the tax may be made by the Mayor and, upon failure or refusal to pay the tax, the tax may be collected by levy without regard to the 10-day period provided in this section.

(b) For the purposes of this subchapter, the term “levy” includes the exercise of the power of distraint and seizure by any means. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (e) of this section, a levy shall extend only to property possessed and obligations existing at the time of the levy. If the Mayor levies upon property, the Mayor may seize and sell the property.

(c) If property levied upon under subsection (a) of this section is not sufficient to satisfy the amount due to the District of Columbia, the Mayor may levy upon any other property of the person until the amount due, together with all expenses, is fully paid.

(d)(1) Levy shall be made under subsection (a) of this section upon the salary, wages, or other property of a person with respect to an unpaid tax only after the Mayor has notified the person in writing of his intention to make the levy.

(2) The notice required under paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be:

(A) Given in person;

(B) Left at the dwelling or usual place of business of the person with some person of suitable age and discretion residing or working therein; or

(C) Sent by mail to the person’s last known address.

(3) Paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not apply to a levy if the Mayor finds in accordance with subsection (a) of this section that the collection of tax is in jeopardy.

(4) Paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not apply to a levy against an account maintained at a third-party financial institution.

(e) The effect of a levy on salary or wages payable to, or received by, a taxpayer shall be continuous from the date the levy is first made until the levy is released.


(June 9, 2001, D.C. Law 13-305, § 405(b), 48 DCR 334; Apr. 4, 2003, D.C. Law 14-282, § 11(iii), 50 DCR 896.)

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-282 added subsec. (d)(4).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 12(qqq) of Tax Clarity and Recorder of Deeds Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-381, June 6, 2002, 49 DCR 5674).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 12(rrr) of Tax Clarity and Related Amendments Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-456, July 23, 2002, 49 DCR 8107).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 12(rrr) of Tax Clarity and Related Amendments Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-510, October 23, 2002, 49 DCR 10247).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 12(rrr) of Tax Clarity and Recorder of Deeds Temporary Act of 2002 (D.C. Law 14-191, October 5, 2002, law notification 49 DCR 9549).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 12(rrr) of Tax Clarity and Related Amendments Temporary Act of 2003 (D.C. Law 14-228, March 23, 2003, law notification 50 DCR 2741).


§ 47–4472. Notice and sale.

(a) After seizure of property, notice in writing shall be given by the Mayor to the owner of the property (or, in the case of personal property, the possessor of the property), or shall be left at his usual place of abode or business. If the owner cannot be readily located, or has no dwelling or place of business, the notice may be mailed to his last known address.

(b) After giving notice to the owner in the manner prescribed in subsection (a) of this section, the Mayor shall publish a notice 3 times in a daily newspaper of general circulation within the area wherein the seizure is made. The notice shall specify the property to be sold, and the time, place, manner, and conditions of the sale thereof.

(c) If property subject to levy is not divisible, so as to enable the Mayor by sale of a part thereof to raise the whole amount of the tax and expenses, the whole of the property shall be sold.

(d) The time of sale shall not be less than 10 days or more than 40 days from the date of the third public notice under subsection (b) of this section. The place of sale shall be determined by the Mayor.

(e)(1) If, at the sale, one or more persons offer to purchase such property for not less than the minimum price determined by the Mayor, the property shall be declared sold to the highest bidder.

(2) If, at the sale, the property is not declared sold, the property may be released to the owner and the expense of the levy and sale shall be added to the amount of tax for the collection of which the levy was made. Property released under this paragraph shall remain subject to any lien imposed by this title and shall be subject to further seizure.

(3)(A) The sale shall not be conducted in any manner other than by public auction or by public sale under sealed bids.

(B) In the case of the seizure of several items of property, the property may be offered separately, in groups, or in the aggregate, under whichever method may produce the highest aggregate amount.

(C) The Mayor may adjourn the sale from time to time.

(4) If payment of the bid price is not made in full, the Mayor may declare the sale to be void, the amount paid upon the bid price by the defaulting purchaser shall be forfeited, and the property may again be advertised and sold as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section. The amount paid upon the bid price by the defaulting purchaser shall be applied first to the expense of the levy and sale and then to the amount of tax for the collection of which the levy was made. In the event of a readvertisement and sale, a new purchaser shall receive the property, free and clear of any claim or rights of the defaulting purchaser.


(June 9, 2001, D.C. Law 13-305, § 405(b), 48 DCR 334.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 47-4473, § 47-4475, and § 47-4476.


§ 47–4473. Storage and sale of perishable property.

If the Mayor seizes property to enforce the payment of the tax, the property seized shall be kept in a safe and convenient place until the sale of the property. If the Mayor determines that the property seized may perish, may become greatly reduced in value while stored, or cannot be kept without great expense, the Mayor shall appraise the value of the property. If the Mayor can readily find the owner, the Mayor shall notify the owner in writing of the appraised value of the property. The Mayor shall return the property to the owner if, within the period stated in the notice, the owner either pays the Mayor the appraised value of the property or gives the Mayor a bond to pay the appraised amount at a time that the Mayor considers appropriate under the circumstances. If the owner does not pay the amount or furnish the bond in accordance with this section, the Mayor shall as soon as practicable, and without regard to the notice requirements under § 47-4472(b) and (d), make a public sale of the property under § 47-4472(e).


(June 9, 2001, D.C. Law 13-305, § 405(b), 48 DCR 334.)


§ 47–4474. Redemption of property.

(a) A person whose property has been levied upon shall have the right to pay the amount due, together with the expenses of the proceeding, if any, to the Mayor at any time before the sale of the property, and upon the payment, the Mayor shall restore the property to him, and all further proceedings in connection with the levy on the property shall cease.

(b)(1) The owners of real property sold as provided in this chapter; their heirs, executors, or administrators; any person having an interest in or a lien on the property; or any person on their behalf, shall be permitted to redeem the property sold at any time within 180 days after the sale.

(2) The property may be redeemed upon payment to the purchaser (or if the purchaser cannot be found, to the Mayor), for the use of the purchaser, his heirs, or assigns, the amount paid by the purchaser and interest thereon at the rate of 18% per year.


(June 9, 2001, D.C. Law 13-305, § 405(b), 48 DCR 334.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 47-4475.


§ 47–4475. Certificate of sale; deed of real property.

(a) If property is sold as provided in § 47-4472, the Mayor shall give to the purchaser a certificate of sale upon payment in full of the purchase price. In the case of real property, the certificate shall set forth the real property purchased, for whose taxes the property was sold, the name of the purchaser, and the price paid.

(b) In the case of real property sold as provided in § 47-4472 and not redeemed in the manner and within the time specified in § 47-4474(b), upon the surrender of the certificate of sale, the Mayor shall execute a deed to the real property, reciting the facts set forth in the certificate.


(June 9, 2001, D.C. Law 13-305, § 405(b), 48 DCR 334.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 47-4476.


§ 47–4476. Legal effect of certificate of sale of personal property and deed of real property.

(a) In all cases of sale of property (other than real property) sold under § 47-4472, the certificate of the sale:

(1) Shall be prima facie evidence of the right of the officer to make the sale and conclusive evidence of the regularity of the proceedings in making the sale;

(2) Shall transfer all rights in the property sold;

(3) If the property is the stock of a corporation, company, or association, shall be notice, when received, to the corporation, company, or association of the transfer, and shall be authority to the corporation, company, or association to record the transfer on its books and records in the same manner as if the stock was transferred or assigned by the taxpayer, in lieu of an original or prior certificate, which shall be void, whether canceled or not;

(4) If the property is securities (other than stock) or other evidences of debt, shall be a good and valid receipt to the purchaser, as against a person holding, or claiming to hold, the securities or other evidences of debt; and

(5) If the property is a motor vehicle, shall be notice, when received, to a public official charged with the registration of title to motor vehicles of the transfer, and shall be authority to the official to record the transfer on the books and records in the same manner as if the certificate of title to the motor vehicle were transferred or assigned by the taxpayer, in lieu of an original or prior certificate, which shall be void, whether canceled or not.

(b) In the case of the sale of real property under § 47-4472:

(1) The deed of sale given under § 47-4475(b) shall be prima facie evidence of the facts set forth in the deed; and

(2) If the seizure and sale have been made substantially in accordance with the law, the deed shall convey all rights of the delinquent party in the real property at the time that the lien of the District of Columbia attached.

(c) A certificate of sale of personal property given, or a deed to real property executed, under § 47-4475 shall discharge the property from all liens, encumbrances, and titles over which the lien of the District of Columbia with respect to which the levy was made had priority.


(June 9, 2001, D.C. Law 13-305, § 405(b), 48 DCR 334.)


§ 47–4477. Application of proceeds.

(a) The proceeds realized from a seizure and sale under this chapter shall be applied in the following order of priority:

(1) The expenses of the proceedings for seizure and sale;

(2) The specific tax liability on the seized property;

(3) The liability for which the levy was made or the sale was conducted;

(4) Any other District of Columbia tax liability due and unpaid.

(b) Any proceeds remaining after the application of subsection (a) of this section shall, upon application and satisfactory proof, be credited or refunded by the Mayor to the person entitled thereto.


(June 9, 2001, D.C. Law 13-305, § 405(b), 48 DCR 334.)


§ 47–4478. Release of levy and return of property.

(a) The Mayor shall release the levy upon all, or part, of the property levied upon and shall promptly notify the person upon whom the levy was made (if any) that the levy has been released if:

(1) The liability for which the levy was made is satisfied or becomes unenforceable;

(2) Release of the levy will facilitate the collection of the liability;

(3) The taxpayer has entered into an agreement to satisfy the liability by means of installment payments (unless the agreement provides otherwise); provided, that the Mayor shall not be required to release the levy if the release would jeopardize the status of the District of Columbia as a secured creditor;

(4) The Mayor determines that the levy is creating an economic hardship due to the financial condition of the taxpayer; or

(5) The fair market value of the property exceeds the liability and release of the levy on part of the property will not hinder the collection of the liability.

(b) The release of levy on a property under subsection (a)(1) of this section shall not prevent a subsequent levy on the property.

(c) If the Mayor determines that property has been wrongfully levied upon, the Mayor may return:

(1) The specific property levied upon, at any time;

(2) An amount of money equal to the amount of money levied upon; or

(3) An amount of money equal to the amount of money received by the District of Columbia from a sale of the property.

(d) Interest shall be allowed and paid at the overpayment rate established in § 47-4212:

(1) In a case described in subsection (c)(2) of this section, from (A) the date of receipt of the money by the Mayor from the levy to (B) a date (to be determined by the Mayor) preceding the date of return of the money by not more than 60 days; or

(2) In a case described in subsection (c)(3) of this section, from (A) the date of the sale of the property to (B) a date (to be determined by the Mayor) preceding the date of return of the proceeds of sale by not more than 60 days.


(June 9, 2001, D.C. Law 13-305, § 405(b), 48 DCR 334.)


§ 47–4479. Judgment for wrongful distraint.

If there is a recovery in a suit or proceeding against the Mayor (or the Mayor’s designee), for a wrongful distraint or any other act performed by the Mayor or for the recovery of money paid to the Mayor and transmitted to the District of Columbia in the performance of the Mayor’s official duty, and the court finds there was probable cause for the act performed, an execution shall not issue thereon, but the amount so recovered shall, upon final judgment, be paid by the District of Columbia in the same manner as judgments against the District of Columbia are paid.


(June 9, 2001, D.C. Law 13-305, § 405(b), 48 DCR 334.)


§ 47–4480. Liability for failure or refusal to surrender.

A person who fails or refuses to surrender property subject to distraint on which a levy has been made shall be liable to the District of Columbia for the value of the property not surrendered, but not exceeding the amount of the taxes, including interest and penalties, for which the levy has been made, together with costs and interest thereon from the date of the levy.


(June 9, 2001, D.C. Law 13-305, § 405(b), 48 DCR 334.)


§ 47–4481. Financial institutions, requests for information.

(a)(1) The Chief Financial Officer may request, up to 4 times per year, information and assistance from a financial institution concerning any obligor who is delinquent in the payment of taxes to aid in the enforcement of District tax laws.

(2) The CFO’s request shall:

(A) Include the full name of the obligor and any other names known to be used by the obligor;

(B) Include the social security number, or other taxpayer identification number, of the obligor; and

(C) Be transmitted to the financial institution in an electronic format, unless the financial institution asks the CFO to submit the request in hard-copy form.

(b)(1) Within 30 days of receipt of a request from the CFO, the financial institution shall, with respect to each obligor whose name the CFO submitted to the financial institution, submit a report, in machine-readable form, to the CFO in compliance with paragraph (3) of this subsection.

(2) A financial institution submitting a report to the CFO pursuant to this section is prohibited from disclosing to an obligor that his or her name has been received in a request for information or furnished to the CFO.

(3)(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, the report required pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection shall contain, to the extent reflected in the records of the financial institution:

(i) The full name of the obligor;

(ii) The address of the obligor;

(iii) The social security number, or other taxpayer identification number, of the obligor;

(iv) Any other identifying information needed to ensure positive identification of the obligor; and

(v) For each account of the obligor, the obligor’s account number and balance.

(B) For a financial institution that submits reports through the Federal Parent Locator Service under 42 U.S.C. § 666(a)(17), a report that contains the information that meets the specifications required for financial-data-match reports under the Federal Parent Locator Service shall meet the requirements of this subsection.

(c) A financial institution that submits a report in compliance with this section is not liable to any person for:

(1) Disclosure of any information submitted to the CFO in accordance with this section; or

(2) Any other action taken in good faith to comply with the requirements of this section.

(d) The Mayor may institute civil proceedings to enforce this section through the Office of Attorney General for the District of Columbia.

(e) For the purposes of this section, the term:

(1) “Account” means any funds from a demand deposit account, checking account, negotiable order of withdrawal account, savings account, time deposit account, money market mutual fund account, or certificate of deposit account, any funds paid towards the purchase of shares or other interest in a financial institution, and any funds or property held by a financial institution, and does not include an account or portion of an account to which an obligor does not have access due to the pledge of the funds as security for a loan or other obligation, funds on property deposited to an account after the time that the financial institution initially attaches the account, an account or portion of an account to which the financial institution has a present right to exercise a right of setoff, an account or portion of an account that has an account holder of interest named as an owner on the account, or an account or portion of an account to which the obligor does not have an unconditional right of access.

(2) “Account holder of interest” means any person, other than the obligor, who asserts an ownership interest in an account.

(3) “CFO” means the Chief Financial Officer of the District of Columbia.

(4) “Financial institution” means a:

(A) Depository institution, as defined in the Federal Deposit Insurance Act under 12 U.S.C. § 1813(c);

(B) Federal credit union or State credit union, as defined in the Federal Credit Union Act under 12 U.S.C. § 1752; or

(C) Benefit association, insurance company, safe deposit company, money market mutual fund, or similar entity doing business in the state that holds property or maintains accounts reflecting property belonging to others.

(5) “Obligor” means a person, whose property is subject to a tax lien.


(Sept. 14, 2011, D.C. Law 19-21, § 8082(b), 58 DCR 6226.)

Short Title

Short title: Section 8081 of D.C. Law 19-21 provided that subtitle I of title VIII of the act may be cited as “Bank Account Tax Offset Act of 2011”.