Duration of Federal Tax Liens

A federal tax lien  is valid for 10 years and 30 days from the date of assessment, unless prior to expiration of this period of limitations, the lien is properly refilled within the time allowed by law. The date of assessment is disclosed in Column (d) of the Notice of Federal Tax Lien, and the last day for refilling is shown in Column (e). Prior to November 5, 1990, a federal tax lien was valid for 6 years unless refilled within 6 years and 30 days from the date of assessment. If refilled, the duration of the lien was extended an additional 6 years. Under the Federal Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1990, which went into effect on November 5, 1990, the duration of federal tax liens was extended from 6 years to 10 years, and the refilling period was extended from 6 years and 30 days to 10 years and 30 days from the date of assessment. Therefore, a title search that extends back 10 years and 30 days from the current date should pick up all effective federal tax liens. 


Care should be taken, however, in relying completely upon the statute of limitations. Circumstances such as the taxpayerís suit in Tax Court or bankruptcy may toll the running of the enforcement period. Also, the taxpayer may have entered into a waiver agreement with the Internal Revenue Service which extends the time of payment, and thus the enforceability of the lien. If you have actual notice of such a waiver agreement or other circumstance which may extend the IRSís ability to enforce the lien, then you should not rely on the statute of limitations alone, but rather require a Release of Lien from the Internal Revenue Service.