How Do I Find Out if I Have a Tax Lien Against Me?

Discovering whether you have a tax lien against you is essential to ensure your financial and legal well-being. A tax lien is a legal claim by the government on your assets due to unpaid taxes. Here are some steps you can take to find out if you have a tax lien against you:

1. Contact the IRS: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is responsible for collecting federal taxes. You can contact them directly to inquire about any tax liens. Call their toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040 and provide your personal information to obtain the necessary details.

2. Review your credit reports: Tax liens are often reported to credit bureaus and can significantly impact your credit score. Obtain your credit reports from the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and carefully review them for any tax lien notations.

3. Check your local county records: Tax liens are typically filed with local county recorders or clerks. Visit the county recorder’s office in person or search their online database to check if any tax liens have been recorded against your name or property.

4. Hire a tax professional: If you find the process overwhelming or are unsure about conducting the search yourself, it may be beneficial to hire a tax professional. They have the expertise and resources to perform a comprehensive search on your behalf.

5. Utilize online resources: Several online platforms provide access to public records, including tax liens. Websites like LexisNexis, PublicRecordsNow, or the National Association of Counties can assist you in searching for tax liens against your name.

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6. Check with state tax agencies: In addition to federal taxes, you may also owe state taxes. Contact your state’s tax agency to determine whether any state tax liens have been filed against you.

7. Consult with a lawyer: If you suspect you may have a tax lien against you, it is advisable to consult with a tax attorney. They can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and represent your interests if necessary.

8. Request a tax lien withdrawal or release: If you discover that you do have a tax lien, there may be options available to have it withdrawn or released. Paying off your tax debt in full is the most straightforward way to achieve this. Alternatively, you can explore installment agreements, offers in compromise, or other payment arrangements with the IRS to resolve your tax liability.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. What is the difference between a tax lien and a tax levy?
A tax lien is a claim against your property, while a tax levy is the actual seizure and sale of your property to satisfy the tax debt.

2. What if I can’t afford to pay off the tax lien immediately?
You can negotiate a payment plan with the IRS or explore other options such as an offer in compromise, which allows you to settle the debt for less than the full amount owed.

3. Can a tax lien affect my credit score?
Yes, a tax lien can have a significant negative impact on your credit score and make it challenging to obtain credit or loans.

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4. How long does a tax lien stay on my credit report?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, tax liens can remain on your credit report for up to seven years from the date they were paid or released.

5. Can a tax lien be released if I file for bankruptcy?
In some cases, filing for bankruptcy can lead to the release or discharge of tax liens. However, the specifics depend on the type of bankruptcy and your individual circumstances.

6. Can I sell my property with a tax lien?
It is possible to sell your property with a tax lien, but the lien must be satisfied before the sale can be completed.

7. Can the IRS seize my bank accounts with a tax lien?
Yes, the IRS has the authority to levy your bank accounts and other assets to satisfy the tax debt if you fail to pay or make suitable arrangements.

8. Will the IRS notify me if a tax lien is filed against me?
The IRS is required to send a Notice of Federal Tax Lien (NFTL) to inform you when a tax lien is filed against you.

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