A tax lien release may come after the government puts a legal claim against your assets due to neglect or failure to pay back taxes. The IRS provides conditions and a process to follow if you want to remove the government’s interest in your property, including financial assets, personal property, and real estate. But what does it mean when a tax lien is released?

Background on Tax Liens

If you have a tax liability of about $10,000, the IRS will likely place a tax lien on your property. The IRS does this by filing a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, which publicly notifies your creditors that the IRS has an interest in your property.

When this happens, you risk losing your property if you don’t pay your tax debt. A tax lien still attaches to your future assets, as long as you acquired them during the lien duration.

Upon the filing of a Notice of Federal Tax Lien by the IRS, your ability to get credit is limited. If you’re a business owner, a tax lien also attaches to your business property, including accounts receivable.

Perhaps the most important thing to note is that the Notice of Federal Tax Lien, tax debt, and lien continues even after filing for bankruptcy.

Getting a Tax Lien Release

You can avoid a tax lien by being compliant with your tax obligations. While you may not be entirely compliant, being proactive and finding a workable solution for your tax debt is a great way to avoid an IRS tax lien.

If you’ve already been slapped with a tax lien by the IRS, there are various ways of avoiding its effects, and a tax lien release is one of those.

When a tax lien is released, it means that the IRS clears the Notice of Federal Tax Lien and its interest on your property. A tax lien release is achieved when the IRS files a Certificate of Release of Federal Tax Lien.

Despite the release, a tax lien will still show up on your credit report for up to seven years. This only ceases to be the case if the IRS withdraws the tax lien.

Ways of Getting a Tax Lien Release

The best way to get rid of a federal tax lien is by paying your tax debt in full. If you make full payment on your back taxes, the IRS releases your tax lien within 30 days after making the payment.

Besides after paying your back taxes in full, when else will the IRS remove a tax lien?

Offer in Compromise (OIC)

By settling your tax debt through an OIC, the IRS agrees to settle your tax liability by paying less than you actually owe. If your OIC is accepted by the IRS, you will have two years to pay the settlement amount.

The acceptance requirements for an IOC are strict, and you must provide a lot of confidential financial information to the IRS. An offer can only be accepted if the IRS believes that the amount offered is the most it can get.

Wait for the Statute of Limitations to Expire

Normally, there is a statute of limitations on the collection of IRS taxes. If the expiration date on collection arrives, the IRS has no power to enforce the lien. Usually, tax liability expires ten years after filing your return or after the IRS assesses your tax debt.

Keep in mind that the statute of limitations is extended if you file for bankruptcy, an offer in compromise, or sign the Tax Collection Waiver form.

Post a Bond Guaranteeing Payment

Giving the IRS a bond to guarantee payment of your tax debt has a similar effect as paying your taxes in full. However, qualifying for a surety bond could be challenging.

Lien Withdrawal

Most taxpayers get lost in the tax lien withdrawal vs release discussion. A tax lien withdrawal gets rid of the Notice of Federal Tax Lien. It is also a sign of assurance that the IRS is not in competition with other creditors for interest in your property.

Ways to Get a Tax Lien Withdrawal

To get a lien withdrawal, you have to complete the Application for Withdrawal of Filed Form 668(Y), Notice of Federal Tax Lien. In turn, the IRS will file a document known as Withdrawal of Filed Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Through this document, the IRS withdraws an active Notice of Federal Tax Lien.

Paying Your Tax Debt in Full

One way you can get a tax lien withdrawal is by paying all your back taxes and getting a lien release. In addition to satisfying your tax liability and getting a lien release, the IRS will require you to be:

  • Compliant, in the past three years, with filing all individual, business, and information returns.
  • Current on your federal deposits and estimated tax payments as applicable

Enter Into a Direct Debit Installment Agreement (DDIA)

The IRS will withdraw the tax lien from public record if you set up a direct debit installment agreement, but under the following conditions:

  • You are an eligible taxpayer, that is, an individual or business with income tax obligation only, or an out-of-business entity with any type of tax liability.
  • You have $25,000 or less in tax debt (including tax, penalties, and interest). If your balance is higher than this amount, you can pay it down to $25,000 to qualify.
  • Your DDIA must pay your balance in full within 60 months, or prior to the expiration of the Collection statute, whichever is earlier.
  • You’ve fully complied with the filing and payment requirements.
  • You’ve deposited three consecutive direct debit payments.
  • You have not defaulted on your current or previous DDIA.

Convert Your Regular Installment Agreement to a Direct Deposit Installment Agreement

If you have already set up an installment agreement with the IRS and have not exceeded the $25,000 threshold, you can convert it into a direct deposit installment agreement. If your balance is greater than this limit, you can pay it down after converting to a DDIA.

Alternatives to Lien Removal or Withdrawal

When a tax lien release or withdrawal isn’t an option, you may explore the options discussed below.

Discharge of Property

A “discharge” means that the IRS removes the lien from a particular property. The IRS has various provisions that state the eligibility for receiving a discharge.

To get a discharge of property, you have to complete Form 14135, which is the Application for a Certificate of Discharge From Federal Tax Lien, and then mail it to the IRS.


Subordination doesn’t remove a tax lien. Instead, it allows another creditor to move ahead of the IRS in priority. This could make it easier to secure financing, and the IRS could favor this move if it is in their best interest. For instance, subordination can help you refinance a mortgage, which could in turn put you in a better position to repay the IRS.

Bottom Line

Tax lien removal means that the IRS removes the notice of its interest in your property from the public. If the IRS has placed a lien on your property, you can get a tax lien release by paying your debt in full. If that is not attainable, you can file an OIC or wait for the Statute of Limitations on collection to expire.

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