A tax lien is a civil action filed in court of the county where a person resides or a business operates by a government agency particularly the Internal Revenue Service. IRS is seeking a legal claim – attachment against that person’s or business’ property or money owing to taxes. In normal situation, once the claim is proved, the court will then make an order of attachment or lien against the said property or money and published on public records. But in the case of the IRS, because of its federal power and the quasi-judicial status, it need not go to court for this process and issues directly a tax lien on the tax payer’s property. This means that it announces to the world that you owe the IRS taxes for which the property is being secured. The property that maybe subject of the tax lien can either be real which is most preferred, or personal. Once there is a tax lien on record, it becomes difficult or impossible for a taxpayer to dispose of the same and it will likewise affect the taxpayer’s credit standing. For example, the taxpayer cannot sell a parcel of land or a car subject of the tax lien nor can the taxpayer secure a financing to purchase a parcel of land or a car for that matter, unless of course, you satisfy the tax lien or until final payment is made on your liabilities or in short, the tax lien is released, discharged, withdrawn or removed.
Tax Liens are effective for a period of ten years and are generally self-releasing after that period unless refiled by the IRS in which case, it shall be effective for another 10 years. The government’s tax lien on a taxpayer’s property is priority over his other creditors and thus, the government is first on the list of creditors to be satisfied in the case of attachment and liquidation.