New Orleans, LA asked in Tax Law for North Carolina

Q: IRS has a lien on house because of owed taxes in 2000-04; lien filed 2008. Is lien active or expired?

My sister and I inherited our mother's house. She passed away unexpectedly Nov. 2015. The estate was closed May 2017. When the lawyer sent us the final paperwork, we were surprised to find that there was a photocopy of a lien on the house by the IRS for [mother's] unpaid taxes 2000-04. It notes that a lien was filed in July 2018. Is this still valid? Is it expired?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Matthew M Montoya
Matthew M Montoya
  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • Lone Tree, CO

A: The short answer is: in general, the lien stays on. In other words, the heirs take the property subject to an IRS lien. This is really the only way that the IRS can still collect on the back taxes that they are owed.

With that said, you should probably do a consultation with a representative (Tax Attorney or Enrolled Agent or a CPA (that specializes in tax controversy/resolution)) to help you because there may be a statute of limitations issue. That will depend heavily on some technical rules (some of them "freeze" the time to collect) and whether your mother signed anything to extend the statute. It's very fact-specific and depends heavily on what happened, when. If the statute is over, and the IRS can't collect on the taxes, then you'd probably want to hire the representative to help you get the taxes off and get the lien released and removed.

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