How to Search for a Federal Tax Lien

By Christopher Raines
Delinquent taxpayers face liens that can cloud titles and credit histories.
tax forms image by Stephen VanHorn from

The federal tax lien provides a powerful tool for the Internal Revenue Service to collect overdue taxes. The lien clouds a delinquent taxpayer's title to property, frustrates property transfers or sales and damages credit ratings. Title searchers, buyers and lenders, or their attorneys, search for these and other liens to decide whether to buy land or lend. Tax lien filings also inform searchers on a person's background and financial status.

Go to the secretary of state's website or office in the taxpayer's state. Select the link for federal tax liens. Enter the last name and first name for individuals and the company name for a business. Use only the first few letters to avoid the risk of missing the true name of the taxpayer. Verify that the address for a search result matches the address you have for the taxpayer.

Find the register of deeds, land records or clerk's office in the taxpayer's county or where the taxpayer has property. Proceed to the United States Postal Service website ( Select "Find a Zip Code" on the homepage to go to the search page for "Search by Address." Type the address and click "Submit." Click on the "Mailing Industry Information" link and the county will appear in a separate window.

Go to the office or website for the land records or clerk of court's office depending upon what office the state designates for filing tax liens. Choose the search option for federal tax liens or Internal Revenue Service lien. Enter the taxpayer's name or the first few letters so you do not mistakenly believe that no liens exist for the taxpayer. For searches in clerk of court's offices, consult the judgment index or records to find tax liens.

About the Author

Christopher Raines enjoys sharing his knowledge of business, financial matters and the law. He earned his business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a lawyer since August 1996, Raines has handled cases involving business, consumer and other areas of the law.