Help with liens

Proof a lien was released

Contact the county where the lien was recorded, removed, or released to get a copy of the recorded release. When you search for the release of the lien, use the date the lien was resolved and not the date the lien was originally recorded.

Visit County contacts for a list of county websites.

Why didn’t a lien release

Here are a few reasons why your lien didn’t release.


A lien may remain on your real property even if you filed for bankruptcy.

Visit Liens and bankruptcy for more information.

Balance was not paid

A lien may remain if you didn’t pay the entire balance of all the liened tax years.

Contact us to resolve your balance.

The lien is expired

We will not issue a lien release if the lien is already expired.

The lien release hasn’t recorded

We may have issued a lien release that hasn’t been recorded with the county recorder. Allow at least 3 months for the county recorder to record the release.

Call us at (916) 845-4350 if it’s been more than 3 months.

A lien was filed in error

Sometimes there is a mistake and a lien is filed against you in error.

For example, the balance was resolved before the lien recording date because either:

  • The amount due was paid in full
  • A refund, zero balance, or fully paid return was filed

If these were resolved after the lien recording date, the lien is not considered to be “filed in error.”

Contact us if you think a lien was filed in error. If we determine there is an error, we will:

  • Release the lien with the county recorder or California Secretary of State
  • Notify the major credit bureau agencies, upon your request

Update your credit report

Credit bureau agencies may include liens on your credit report. We will notify the major credit bureau agencies if our lien was filed in error, upon your request.

Contact the credit bureau agencies directly to make corrections to your credit report.

Visit the Federal Trade Commission website for more information on your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Insufficient funds in escrow/short sale

If there’s not enough to pay off all your liens while in escrow, you may qualify for either:

  • A partial release of lien
  • Subordination of a lien

We do not issue zero demands.

Partial release of lien

A partial release of lien only releases a specific piece of property from a recorded state tax lien. To receive a partial release of lien, you must provide documentation to prove there’s not enough money to pay off all of our state tax lien(s).
Typical situations include:

  • A sale (transfer the rights) of the property (short escrow)
  • A short sale (pre-foreclosure)
  • Removal of someone from the title of the property (divorce)

Our Notice of State Tax Lien remains in effect and will attach to any other real property you currently own or may acquire in the future.

Subordination of a lien

Subordination of a lien only lowers the priority of our lien in favor of another lien(s) against the property.

Typical situations include:

  • Refinancing a loan and there are insufficient funds to fully satisfy the state tax lien
  • Modifying the existing loan

Our Notice of State Tax Lien remains in effect and will still attach to the specified property and any other real property you currently own or may acquire in the future. Subordination of a lien is not the same as a release of lien.

We do not provide subordination of a lien when buying property.

Submit a request

Before you submit a request, call the Lien Program at (916) 845-4350 to review your options.

To submit a request, you must:

  • Gather these items:
    • Letter from seller(s) detailing request and/or hardship. Include FTB ID/SSN, property address, forwarding address (if applicable), phone number(s), and current occupation
    • Estimated Closing or Settlement Statement, formerly known as HUD-1. Include estimated closing date
    • Current preliminary title report that includes the legal description of the property
    • Current appraisal report (CMA/BPO accepted on vacant land transactions only)
    • Copies of all other liens and encumbrances
    • Documentation to substantiate all lien payoffs through this escrow. Current short sale approval letter from lender(s) required for all short sale transactions.
    • Copy of the new deed of trust (for subordination requests only)
  • Send all the items with your request by overnight service (not priority mail) to:

    Lien Program MS A456
    Franchise Tax Board
    Sacramento, CA 95827

We may need additional documentation and contact with the seller to complete the request.

Reviewing your request

During the review process we will:

  • Review the reason for the request
  • Verify the property is being sold at or near fair market value
  • Determine the industry standard fees and commissions are charged
  • Confirm only senior lien holders and/or judgment creditors are paid

We may need additional documentation and contact with the seller to complete the request.

Submit your request at least 21 business days before the escrow closing date to allow enough time for review. Failure to provide a complete package will result in a delay.

Competing liens

Generally, the priority of liens is determined by the order of the recording date. Under California law, priority between state and federal tax liens is determined when each liability was first created (the statutory lien date).

You may need to contact each state or federal agency. Each agency provides their own documentation to resolve liens.

Common state and federal agencies include:

Expired lien

A lien expires 10 years from the date of recording or filing, unless we extend it. If we extend the lien, we will send a new Notice of State Tax Lien and record or file it with the county recorder or California Secretary of State.

We will not release expired liens.

Disagree with a lien

Visit Disagree or resolve an issue if you disagree with a lien filed against you.

Not my lien/name mix-up

Your title or credit report may contain incorrect tax lien information. This happens because of a common name mix-up.

You can correct this mistake by getting a copy of the tax lien from the county recorder’s office where it was recorded. Provide the recorded copy to your title company or lender.

If this doesn’t resolve your issue, call us at (916) 845-4350 for help

Foreclosures and surplus funds

If the property is sold in a foreclosure sale and there are surplus funds to pay other lien holders, the trustee must send us a surplus funds request.

(916) 845-3277
Collection Advisory Team MS A240
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 2952
Sacramento CA 95812-2952

Contact us

  • (800) 689-4776
  • (916) 845-7044 (outside the U.S.)
  • Corporations: (888) 635-0494
    (916) 845-7033 (outside the U.S.)
  • Partnerships: (888) 635-0494
    (916) 845-7165 (outside the U.S.)
  • Limited Liability Companies: (888) 635-0494
    (916) 845-7166 (outside the U.S.)
Currently in real estate or financial transaction (only)
  • (916) 845-4350
Lien Program MS A456
Franchise Tax Board
PO Box 2952
Sacramento CA 95812-2952
Overnight service (not priority mail)
Lien Program MS A456
Franchise Tax Board
Sacramento CA 95827