The IRS have 10 years to collect - and if they don't, your debt is erased. It's called the Statute of Limitations (note...this only applies to Federal Taxes. Some states can indeed hound you for the rest of your life to pay your state taxes). But don't get too excited yet.
In 2006, Will Smith starred in a movie called "The Pursuit of Happyness", a true story about Chris Gardner, a man with a 5-year old son who ends up homeless on the streets of San Francisco. Smith was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his part in this inspiring film, which tells with an unblinking eye the real-life story of a man's struggle with a string of back luck coupled with questionable decisions.
If you are feeling the pinch when it comes to taxes, the IRS is going to do more for those who are financially strapped and unable to clear tax debts.
When the Fresh Start initiative started in 2008, the IRS announced that it would provide taxpayers with lien relief if they are were trying to sell or refinance a property. New flexibility was added in 2009, along with expanded thresholds for small business owners.