Tax Lien

What is a 'Tax Lien'

A tax lien is a legal claim by a government entity against a noncompliant taxpayer's assets. Tax liens are a last resort to force an individual or business to pay back taxes. To get rid of a lien, the taxpayer must pay what he or she owes, get the debt dismissed in bankruptcy court or reach an offer in compromise with the tax authorities. Federal and state governments may place tax liens for unpaid federal or state income taxes, while local governments may place tax liens for unpaid local income or property taxes.

BREAKING DOWN 'Tax Lien'

If the taxes remain unpaid, the tax authority can then use a tax levy to legally seize the taxpayer's assets (such as bank accounts, investment accounts, automobiles and real property) in order to collect the money it is owed. Tax liens are publicly recorded and may be reported to credit agencies. These two features of tax liens effectively prevent the sale or refinancing of assets to which liens have been attached, and prevent the delinquent taxpayer from borrowing money.

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RELATED FAQS
  1. How do I avoid a tax lien on my property?

    Find out the best way to prevent the government from placing a lien on your property, including the consequences of having ... Read Answer >>
  2. What types of liens are seen as good and which are bad for my credit?

    Understand what a lien is and what types of liens are most common for individuals, and learn which types of liens are good ... Read Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between a lien and an encumbrance?

    Understand the legal terms ''lien'' and ''encumbrance,'' and learn the significant distinction between these two essential ... Read Answer >>
  4. What is the difference between a possessory and a non-possessory lien?

    Gain a basic understanding of a possessory lien and a non-possessory lien, the key differences between the two structures ... Read Answer >>
  5. How does the marginal tax rate system work?

    The marginal tax rate is the rate of tax that income earners incur on each additional dollar of income. As the marginal tax ... Read Answer >>
  6. Can credit card creditors put a lien in house property?

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