Tax Law (Questions About Taxes)/Tax lien


Our jointly owned home has a $90K tax lien. After our divorce,I would like my wife to own the home and I want to accept full responsibility for the tax debt. Will she be able to get the lien removed? I'm willing to have my acceptance of this responsibility in writing.

This is a more complex question than you probably realize.

A "lien" on the house is a "secured" position, that means that the lien holder has a path to collection that is better than an "unsecured" position of just hoping to get paid.

A lien holder is not likely to exchange a secure position for an unsecured position of just "a promise to pay".

But we're talking about the IRS, so things may not be as they appear.

For instance, you say they filed a lien on your property:

Did you give permission to the IRS to file against your house? If you have not given written permission for the IRS to place a lien on your house, and they didn't go before a court, other than tax court, to get judicial permission to file an actual lien, they probably didn't file an actual lien. What appears to be a lien may only be a "Notice of Intent to Lien".

Most people, don't realize how different those are.

And that is the Voodoo the IRS is hoping for. If you believe there is a lien against your property you will probably pay it, and no one is going to point out that you. Find a copy of the document that was actually filed. Is is a Lien? or is it a Notice of Intent?

Why would the IRS file a Notice of Intent to Lien instead of a lien? Because the only way to correctly file a formal lien is through a judicial process, but the IRS doesn't want to actually adjudicate its claims. It is far more efficient for them to make an un-judicial claim and hope people believe it has the same weight and credibility as a judicially processed claim.

And it works most all of the time.

But that isn't what your question is. So back to the question. If you want to pay $90,000, then. . .

Would the IRS be willing to exchange their current filing against the home for an unsecured, agreed claim? they might. . .

If they were aware that you were aware that their current claim is less than credible, they might jump at the chance to have you agree to the amount due and give up your rights to actually adjudicate the tax. Once you admit you owe the tax, whether it is accurate or not you give up your right to then change your mind. You contracted at that point, and they can hold you to the contract. You may have already admitted that you owe the tax, the IRS can be quite tricky at getting that admission.

So, you may have already agreed to the debt, in that case it may be a "real", "secure" lien against the home. There are innocent spouse protections, that may allow your ex-wife to claim that she is not responsible, and the IRS may freely transition the debt to a personal one against you.

If this answer opens up a whole world of other questions, then call me and I'll discuss those with you. 702 792-3392, or 877.627-7761.  

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Richard Fritzler


Specializing in Business and Corporate taxation. Comparing the advantages and requirements of different business entities, such as Sub-S Corporations, LLC`s, Partnerships (Both Limited and General), Doing Business as a Sole Proprietor, or Using a C-Corporation. Issues regarding K-1 distributions, 1040, schedule C, 1120, 1120s. Are you considering domiciling a Corporation in a low tax state? I can review the benefits and misinformation that exists.


I have been in the business of assisting business owners in reducing their taxes and liability since 1986.

National Small Business Owners Association.
Contributing author to "The Corporate Standard Newsletter".

Contributing author to "The Corporate Standard Newsletter".

I have been in the business of assisting business owners in reducing their taxes and liability since 1986.

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