I am not your friendly, local tax representative. I do not represent you. I don’t even know you. For all you know, I’m some 12 year old who took a break for World of Warcraft to give fake tax advice.
We handle this stuff for our clients every single day. The reality is that while the IRS can most certainly seize property or throw somebody in jail, they usually don’t. 20 years ago? Hell yeah- they went crazy seizing stuff, but nowadays? Not so much. In 2009, there were something like 600 seizures in the entire country. The real concern for anyone financially linked to a big tax debt is levy of cash sitting in bank accounts, receivables for a business, or wages for an employee. Oh, and in 2009 there were 3.5 million levies. See? They aren’t terribly concerned with taking anybody’s stuff.
Further to the point, assuming your friend still owes the bank on the trailer’s original loan: even if they did want to seize this trailer thing, the reality is that if there is no equity in it, the IRS isn’t going to seize it. See Internal Revenue Code 6331(f), which talks about the IRS not making any “uneconomical levies.”
Naturally, there is a sliding scale here that is based on how much your friend owes the IRS. In this business, I’ve learned that one man’s “deep trouble” with the IRS is absolutely nominal to someone else. Does he owe $10k? $100k? $1,000,000? Is he a tax protester or just a contractor who didn’t file or pay for a while? These are all things he needs to discuss with his representative because they can dramatically effect the IRS’ approach to him. If he doesn’t have a representative, you’re welcome to PM me and I’ll send you a link to an organization that helps folks find local Enrolled Agents and CPAs who deal with this stuff (while we are members of this group, there are hundreds of others, too).