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State of California Franchise Tax Board

About Liens

A lien is a legal claim against real or personal property to satisfy a debt.

How a lien can affect you

It may delay or prevent you from certain transactions such as buying or selling property.

  • Becomes public record - If you are an individual, we record a Notice of State Tax Lien with the county recorder’s office. If you are a business entity, we file a Notice of State Tax Lien with the California Secretary of State (Government Code Sections 7171 and 7220).
  • Effective for 10 years or more - Once a lien is recorded, the lien continues in effect for 10 years unless extended for an additional 10 years (California Government Code Section 7172(b)).
  • Attaches to property - A lien attaches to any California real or personal property you own or have rights to.
  • Impacts your credit - A lien negatively impacts your credit. It may prohibit your ability to purchase, sell, refinance, or transfer real property, along with securing loans for other assets or debts.
  • Credit bureau report - We do not report lien information directly to the credit bureau agencies. The Notice of State Tax Lien and Release of Lien become public information after being recorded at a county recorder’s office or filed with the California Secretary of State. The credit bureau agencies get the information from either the county recorder or California Secretary of State and report it on your credit bureau report. We do not govern the credit bureau agency’s policy regarding the length of time or the accuracy of the information they keep on your credit bureau report.
  • May affect employment - It may affect your ability to gain and retain employment.

How to prevent a lien

To prevent us from recording or filing a lien against you, do one of the following:

  • Pay your tax liability in full when it becomes due or enter into a qualifying installment agreement. Individuals | Business Entities
  • File required tax returns or provide proof that you have no filing requirement.

Law references

  • California Law - Maintained by the California Legislative Counsel
  • Revenue and Taxation Code Section 19221
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