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The tax attorney is correct that there is no way to know for absolute certain whether or not the lien would also attach to your mother's interest in the property. However, it is not likely your mother's interest in this property would be subject to the lien.
As a general rule, the value of the taxpayer's interest in entireties property will be deemed to be one-half. I have based this on the assumption that they live in NC which is not a community property state, as community property states do have different rules. That being the case, only one half of the property's sale price would generally be subject to the tax lien and your mother should still receive her share of the sale proceeds. I am also assuming here that this tax liability is strictly a liability of your father, and does not arise from a year when they filed a joint tax return.
You can refer to the following IRS legal reference regarding tax liens. In particular, refer to the section entitled Tenancy by the Entirety which covers property jointly owned by a husband and wife.
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can they sell their property? I know that they can't get enough money to pay off all 150 in liens, will they be able to convey fee simple marketable title?
Hello again wstearn,
I can only try to help you with tax related issues, and could not comment on the marketability of this title. Although generally the existence of a lien does not make the title not marketable. It just means that the lien holder must first be paid from the proceeds of the sale.
Your original question asked if they were to sell the property if your mother would be allowed to retain her share of the equity in the home. As long as they are not living in a community property state and as long as this is not a joint tax liability of both spouses, then your mother should still receive her 50% of the equity in the home, or $30,000. The other $30,000 would be applied against the tax debt owed by your father.
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