How to Prevent a Tax Lien Sale


Individuals who fall behind on their taxes are subject to receiving a tax lien placed against them. A lien, simply put, is a legal instrument that allows the taxing agency to seize and sell assets in an effort to satisfy outstanding tax debts. The assets are sold at auction to the highest bidder and ownership is transferred within one year of the auction date. Once your property has been targeted for foreclosure, the only way to prevent the sale is to pay your tax debt.

Things You'll Need

  • Tax lien
  • Lawyer

Determine the date your property will be sold. This date will be listed on one of many notices that you have received regarding the status of your tax situation. You can also locate this information on the tax agency’s website or by phone. It is important that you find out this date as soon as possible in order to redeem your property and prevent the sale.

Make arrangements to redeem your property. Redeeming a property simply means that you pay the outstanding amounts due. You can do this in a number of ways, including making payment of the tax debt in full or by making payments to the agency that will pay the debt in full before the tax sale date. Most municipalities will not require the payment of all taxes due before a property is redeemed. For example, the most current tax sale in Knox County, TN, will require the payment of property taxes up to 2006. The 2007, 2008 and 2009 property taxes may remain unpaid while still redeeming the property and preventing the tax sale, though arrangements must be made to pay these amounts as well, since the process may repeat if the amounts continue to remain delinquent.

Hire an attorney. If you find that you are having difficulty negotiating a payment arrangement or will not be able to pay your taxes in full before the sale date, hiring an attorney can help you negotiate an amicable arrangement and prevent your property from being sold. Most tax attorneys will consult with you once for free, advising you of your options, however, if you choose to hire one for additional help, you will be required to pay a retainer.

Pay your taxes on time. The easiest way to prevent a tax lien, foreclosure and tax sale is to pay your taxes when they are due or make payment arrangements to take care of them in a timely manner.

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