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How do I find out if I have a federal tax lien against me?

How do I find out...

How do I find out if I have a federal tax lien against me? I live in California and have gone to the San Mateo County recorder’s office but it appears to list only liens against real estate, though I am also concerned about a personal lien too. Thank you.

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7/12/2012
Tax.appeal.168
Tax.appeal.168, Tax Accountant
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 4,023
Experience: 3+ decades of varied tax industry exp. Tax Biz owner
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Welcome, thank you for using JustAnswer. My goal is to help make your life a little less taxing.

Note that a federal tax lien attaches to all of your assets. Federal liens are also reported to the credit bureaus, have you requested a copy of your credit report? If not, request a combo report from the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance to you regarding this matter.

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Customer reply replied 5 years ago

So are you saying that I did actually go to the correct sources (California Secy. of State UCC and San Mateo County Recorder) and should also get a credit report just to double-check?

Yes, the sources that you have checked are correct sources, and yes, checking your credit report would be wise as well.

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Customer reply replied 5 years ago

The lien originated against my husband/his business in 1991 and an attempt to garnish my wages was done a few years later (this was lifted) but then was placed against me/my sole and separate property (bought in 1995). As far as I know nothing more happened (but my husband left in 1999 and died in 2006). I want to sell my place, retire to a cheaper place, etc., but fear repercussions of the lien and total loss as an older senior. Am providing this info for background to my concern: Is the lien still active?

Hello,

If I am understanding correctly, a lien was placed against your property bought in 1995. Is this correct? The statute of limitations is normally 10 years, which means that in 2005 the lien would have expired. You stated in your initial inquiry that you checked with the San Mateo County Recorder’s office and you checked the state UCC files. I am assuming that the lien did not show up in either of these places. As I suggested, your credit report is also a good place to check. If you want to sell your property and there is nothing showing up in the County Recorder’s office, it is likely that the lien has expired. When a property is being sold, in most cases, a title search is done on the property to check for any encumbrances, such as liens, etc. If you want to be absolutely certain that the lien is no longer against the property, you may want to have a title search done. To get more into depth on the real estate end of things regarding your matter will be outside of the field of my expertise.

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Customer reply replied 5 years ago

A title report showed clear title/no current property lien but what about lien against me per money gained from sale, which would be reported for income tax purposes?

If there is not a lien against the property, any gain from the sale will not be affected. Please clarify what you mean by a lien against you. You write as if you know that a lien is lingering out there somewhere. Am I missing something? If there is no lien showing attached to any of your assets and there is nothing showing up on your credit report, my thought is that you should be fine when you sell the property. Following is some information and a link in regards ***** ***** tax liens.

----------------------------------------

How a Lien Affects You

Assets — A lien attaches to all of your assets (such as property, securities, vehicles) and to future assets acquired during the duration of the lien.

Credit — Once the IRS files a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, it may limit your ability to get credit.

Business — The lien attaches to all business property and to all rights to business property, including accounts receivable.

Bankruptcy — If you file for bankruptcy, your tax debt, lien, and Notice of Federal Tax Lien may continue after the bankruptcy.

REFERENCE SOURCE:

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=108339,00.html

 

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Customer reply replied 5 years ago

To me, the "missing something" is the gain that would show up on my personal income tax (which I would have to show for 2012 and the real estate company would have to report): Since the lien was never paid could the IRS "awaken" the lien and take my proceeds/tax me on my gain or can I truly rely on expiration of lien?

Hello, There is a 10-year statute of limitations on tax debt collection from the date of assessment. If the assessment was made in 1995, again the lien should have expired in 2005. Unless the tax lien was refiled timely, the IRS technically cannot hold you liable for the past due tax debt. SEE BELOW:

-----------------------------------------

Beginning in 1990 the first refiling is timely if it is within the ten years and thirty days after the original filing date. Subsequent refiling must be within ten years of the previous refiling.

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Customer reply replied 5 years ago
That's fine. I made a mistake only the 1991 lien shows but no lien on my condo and I recall the one attempt at garnishing my wages. btw: My husband also filed for bankruptcy (I don't know the year) and his business/corporation closed (I don't know the year, took no part in it but he did include me in naming the corporation so on paper it may look one way while at the same time I did nothing, signed no business checks, etc.). In 1999 he left me and went to Canada. He died there in 2006. Whether he recd. any new notices of federal liens I don't know; If he got any first-class mail here, I simply put it in an envelope and mailed it to him. I stopped doing a joint tax return a couple years after he left (which again was in 1999). So: Do any of these dates affect me per 10-year statute and any tax liability?
Hello again,
"I made a mistake only the 1991 lien shows but no lien on my condo and I recall the one attempt at garnishing my wages."
------------------------------------
The 1991 lien is showing up where...? If it is still showing, there is the possibility that the lien has been refiled.
-------------------------------------
On a different note, the fact that you stopped filing joint after he left really has no relevance on any tax debt incurred prior to then. If you were filing joint in the year the tax debt was incurred, then that affects you. By you not knowing if your husband rec'd notices or not does not make it easy to say whether or not the lien was refiled. You've checked the sources that you can check regarding the lien, other than calling the IRS, or having an authorized representative call for you, I don't know of another way to find out if the lien was properly refiled.
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Customer reply replied 5 years ago

That's fine. I made a mistake only the 1991 lien shows but no lien on my condo and I recall the one attempt at garnishing my wages. btw: My husband also filed for bankruptcy (I don't know the year) and his business/corporation closed (I don't know the year, took no part in it but he did include me in naming the corporation so on paper it may look one way while at the same time I did nothing, signed no business checks, etc.). In 1999 he left me and went to Canada. He died there in 2006. Whether he recd. any new notices of federal liens I don't know; If he got any first-class mail here, I simply put it in an envelope and mailed it to him. I stopped doing a joint tax return a couple years after he left (which again was in 1999). So: Do any of these dates affect me per 10-year statute and any tax liability?

Q: "I made a mistake only the 1991 lien shows but no lien on my condo and I recall the one attempt at garnishing my wages."

A: The 1991 lien is showing up where...? If it is still showing, there is the possibility that the lien has been refiled.

On a different note, the fact that you stopped filing joint after he left really has no relevance on any tax debt incurred prior to then. If you were filing joint in the year the tax debt was incurred, then that affects you. By you not knowing if your husband rec'd notices or not does not make it easy to say whether or not the lien was refiled. You've checked the sources that you can check regarding the lien, other than calling the IRS, or having an authorized representative call for you, I don't know of another way to find out if the lien was properly refiled.

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Customer reply replied 5 years ago
You wrote: "You've checked the sources that you can check regarding the lien, other than calling the IRS, or having an authorized representative call for you, I don't know of another way to find out if the lien was properly refiled." I was asking who is an "authorized representative" (a tax atty. or r.e. atty. or a CPA, maybe) but won't it "tip my hand"?
Either of the people that you mentioned can serve as an authorized representative, and yes, having them call will probably raise a red flag. Something that might not raise a red flag is having an authorized rep. request a copy of your tax account transcript. They can do this by calling the IRS, and in most cases, it can be faxed the same day. The tax account transcript should show if there is an active lien.
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Customer reply replied 5 years ago

Thank you for mentioning that approach (having authorized rep request copy of tax account transcript). Sounds like a good way. btw: I have an old copy (original) of lien document with the signature (in contrasting blue ink) of an agent stating I am not included/responsible but I have nothing else because as I stated nothing/no paperwork was shared with me. Nor have I over the years recd. in the mail any official notice, etc. Wouldn't I have been notified if any action?

You are welcome. I would think that the copy of the document that you have indicating that you are not responsible for the lien should be sufficient. If you are a party to the lien I wold think that you should have been notified. Again, my suggestion would be to have an authorized rep request a copy of the account transcript. If the lien doesn't show up on it, I think you are in the clear.
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