Can they take my money without a court order? Yes!
If you don't pay, IRS can seize some of your assets without a court order. Normally it will levy your bank account or wages. A bank levy ties up everything you have in your account, cause all your checks to bounce and can cost you $100 or more in bank charges. A levy on your salary or wages leaves you with only a tiny portion of your net pay ($172.12 per week for a single person) until you get your problem resolved.
You are entitled to a hearing to offer collection alternatives before a levy is served but you have a very limited time to ask for it.
IRS has become very resistant in agreeing to release levies. Your state counterpart make refuse to issue a release in any case. If you wait until a levy has been made, it may be impossible to get a release unless you are about to be evicted or have your utilities shut off. Don't stick your head in the sand because waiting never helps. You have to deal with the problem before it gets to this stage. It is so much messier after that. If a levy has been served, it may be too late.
Except for very rare cases, you will be mailed a letter by certified mail from IRS stating that it intends to levy in 30 days. You will have one chance for a hearing with an IRS Appeals Officer to offer alternatives to a levy. If IRS sends you certified mail, be sure to pick it up. Not opening your mail is no excuse. The clock starts when IRS goes to the post office now when you read it. Additional Bad News: If you wait until your account is at this critical stage IRS also doubles the late payment penalty rate but if you deal with it early and ask for an Payment Agreement earlier the penalty is reduced by half. If you can't pay now, you will be able to get a Hardship Deferral.
Michael S Cash Tax Resolution & Assistance 426 14th St, Suite 111, Modesto, CA 95354 (209) 484-5789