Vision Credit Education, Inc.

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How Long Do Tax Liens Remain?

January 10th, 2008 by Kenneth Long

If you have a federal income tax lien on your credit report, then there are two essential questions you will need to know. First, you need to know how long the IRS intends to pursue the debt, including the types of collection tools they will use. Second, you will need to know how long the negative record will remain on your credit report. Here are the answers.

How Long Will IRS Pursue Tax Liens?

There is no magic answer to this question. The IRS will generally pursue the debt aggressively, utilizing internal and private collection agents. In some cases, they may place levies on bank accounts, garnishments of income tax refunds and even seizure of personal property.

You may pay the tax liability in full, enter into an installment agreement with the IRS or you may submit an offer in compromise (OIC). Once the debt has been satisfied, the IRS will generally release the liability and report it as paid within 30 days.

On older tax debts, the IRS may potentially no longer have an interest in collecting the debt. According to the IRS, “usually 10 years after a tax is assessed, a lien releases automatically if we have not filed it again.”

Paid Federal Tax Liens

Once you have paid a federal income tax lien, it will still remain on your credit report. Similarly to other negative credit items, this record will remain for 7 years from the date of last activity. It will however remain in a separate section of your credit report, known as “Public Records.”

Unpaid Federal Tax Liens

Unpaid federal income tax liens can remain indefinitely, although they will generally be removed from your credit report after 15 years. A tax lien can severely impact your ability to qualify for a mortgage.

Lenders will generally avoid approving a mortgage if there are substantial liabilities that could jeopardize their security interest in the loan. Federal tax liens are seen as the toughest liability to avoid.

Competent Financial Counselors will take back taxes into account when helping your prepare for debt relief. It is an important consideration when preparing your budget and prioritizing payoff priorities.


Although we limit liability through our site-wide legal disclosure, we feel it is important to note separately on this page that this is not tax advice. Instead, we have gathered relevant information from public sources, including the Internal Revenue Service and have presented it here. If you are considering action regarding tax liabilities, you should consult competent and licensed tax advisers.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 10th, 2008 at 11:57 am and is filed under Credit Repair, Taxes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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