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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
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Experience:  Lawyer
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My ex and I did a Quit Claim to change ownership in our house

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My ex and I did a Quit Claim to change ownership in our house to tennants in common when we divorced in. we now want to sell the house and I find out that ex has a big tax lien on house. He tells me he met with IRS agent and it was supposed to be released (it was put there to get his attention) but no paperwork has gone through yet to release it and of course now they are in shut down so it will take time to resolve. Regardless of that, we have a buyer for the house and what i want to know is what happens if he doesn't get the lien removed when we want to sell it. The house is in NH, there will be a profit on the house, but my ex's 50% of that profit will not cover the lien. So how would the sale work? Does the lien go to the new buyer, (that would be terrivle) does the IRS take my ex's 50% profit before realty costs and even though that doesn't meet the full lien, leave me and the buyer alone? How does this work?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

The purpose of the lien is to stop the property from being transferred to a new owner. That means that the IRS will not allow you to sell the property without satisfying the lien. It would not transfer to the new owners. The buyer is not in any way responsible for your ex-husband's debt, and will not have to pay anything to the IRS based on the lien. That means that you unfortunately may need to seek to delay the closing until after this can be resolved.

If the lien is only against your ex-husband and does not name you, the IRS will take his half of the proceeds - most likely off the top, leaving you to pay the realtor fees out of your share. The IRS would not take money from you unless the lien is based on joint debts (and names you as a debtor).

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


This was a very thorough reply, but for me to really internalize the information I need to ask just a little more to be clear. So there is no way we can sell the house until ex satisfies IRS? What if he doesn't have the money to pay them, we can never sell the house? What if i buy him out of the whole house for a low price (where the profit will not cover his lien)? Can I do that? Or, are we totally stuck foreverin not selling the house unless we give the house to IRS or someone (cause my ex doesn't have it) gives them tens of thousands of dollars? How in the world does one resolve this?

He cannot transfer his interest in the property without paying the IRS. That means that you cannot buy him out, at any price, unless he pays the lien. He can pay the IRS from the proceeds of the sale, but they would be able to block the sale if, for example, he decided to sell the place for $10. It's similar to a mortage - the sale can be used to pay the lien, but the title will not transfer to the new owner until the lien is released.
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