How Do I Find a Federal Tax Lien?
A Federal Tax Lien is a legal claim by the government against a person’s property, including real estate, personal property, and financial assets, when they fail to pay their federal taxes. If you are concerned about whether there is a federal tax lien against you or someone else, there are several ways you can find this information.
1. Contact the IRS:
The first and most direct way to find out if there is a federal tax lien is to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) directly. You can call their toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040 and speak with a representative who can assist you in determining if a lien has been filed against you. The representative will ask for your social security number or employer identification number to locate your tax records.
2. Online Search:
The IRS provides an online tool called the “IRS Online Account” where you can view your tax account information, including any federal tax liens. By creating an account and logging in, you can check if a lien has been filed against you. This option is convenient and accessible 24/7.
3. County Recorder’s Office:
Federal tax liens are public records and are typically filed at the county recorder’s office where the taxpayer resides or owns property. You can visit the county recorder’s office or search their online database to find information about any federal tax liens against a person or property.
4. Credit Reporting Agencies:
Federal tax liens can also appear on your credit report. Credit reporting agencies such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion collect information from various sources, including public records. By obtaining a copy of your credit report, you can check if a federal tax lien is listed.
5. Title Companies:
If you are involved in a real estate transaction or considering purchasing a property, a title company can perform a title search to determine if there are any federal tax liens against the property. Title companies have access to public records and can provide you with detailed information about any liens attached to the property.
6. Bankruptcy Court:
If you or someone you know has filed for bankruptcy, federal tax liens may be included in the bankruptcy proceedings. You can search the records of the bankruptcy court to find out if there are any federal tax liens involved.
7. Professional Help:
If you are unsure about how to find a federal tax lien or need assistance in navigating the process, you can hire a tax professional, such as a tax attorney or enrolled agent, who can help you determine if there are any liens against you or provide guidance on resolving the issue.
8. Public Notices:
In some cases, the IRS may publish public notices regarding federal tax liens, especially if they involve high-value properties or significant amounts owed. Checking local newspapers or legal publications may provide information on recently filed federal tax liens.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. Will a federal tax lien affect my credit score?
Yes, a federal tax lien can have a negative impact on your credit score and make it challenging to obtain credit or loans.
2. How long does a federal tax lien remain on my credit report?
A federal tax lien typically remains on your credit report for seven years from the date it is paid in full or ten years from the date it was filed, whichever is longer.
3. Can I remove a federal tax lien from my credit report?
If you have paid the lien in full or qualified for the IRS’s Fresh Start Program, you may be eligible to have the federal tax lien withdrawn or released, which can help improve your credit report.
4. Can a federal tax lien be negotiated or settled?
In some cases, the IRS may consider negotiating or settling a federal tax lien through options like an Offer in Compromise or an installment agreement.
5. Can I sell my property if there is a federal tax lien?
While it is possible to sell your property with a federal tax lien, the lien must be addressed and paid off before the sale can be completed.
6. Can I transfer property to avoid a federal tax lien?
Transferring property to avoid a federal tax lien is illegal and can result in additional penalties and consequences.
7. Can a federal tax lien affect my ability to get a job?
In some cases, employers may conduct background checks that include reviewing an applicant’s credit report, and a federal tax lien could potentially impact your employment prospects.
8. What should I do if I discover a federal tax lien against me?
If you find a federal tax lien against you, it is crucial to address the issue promptly by contacting the IRS or seeking professional assistance to understand your options and resolve the matter.