All About Tax Liens
If you are unfamiliar with tax liens, let me explain the basics. Tax liens are used to obtain delinquent tax amounts owed on real or personal property. A tax lien can be used to obtain delinquent personal taxes, such as overdue income taxes, or for taxes owed on the asset.
The most common form of tax lien is that placed on real property. Tax liens placed on real property differ from personal property tax liens in that real property tax liens attach to the home. So, if you decide to sell your home, that unpaid and delinquent tax remains with the house after the sale. The new owner will then be responsible for the payment of these overdue taxes.
The real property owner and mortgage lender will be served with a notice if taxes become delinquent on the property. A title search is invaluable if you are thinking of purchasing a piece of real estate. The existence of any tax liens will show up on a title search, thereby alerting you to the fact that there are unpaid taxes due.
Normally, tax liens will be paid out of the proceeds of a real property sale as a closing cost. If this same tax lien is not found prior to the close of the real estate sale, the new owner will be reqjuired to pay the past due taxes.
As stated above, mortgage lenders and home owners will both be served a notice regarding the real property taxes when these taxes become delinquent. When this happens, often mortgage holders will pay the taxes and then turn around and bill the home owner for the amount paid. This is done because a government tax lien takes precedence over mortgage payments so the mortgage lender often feels it needs to protect its interests.
In the event this doesn’t happen, there are several different ways to make overdue tax payments in order to remove the lien from the property. The home owner can decide to pay the tax directly. Alternately, the home owner can decide to use an escrow account.
What happens if the taxes are not paid? If a tax lien is not paid within a specified timeframe, the property, real or personal, can be seized and sold to pay the back taxes.
Typically, federal procedures will dictate the process since most real property liens are federal in nature, such as liens for the payment of income tax or gift tax. If the tax lien is state mandated, the procedures will be determined by the state in which the real estate is located. To avoid this type of scenario, it is best to pay all taxes when they are due and to request a title search if you are considering a real estate purchase.
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