Having a tax lien on your credit report can weigh down your credit score, and can even make it tougher – if not impossible – to do things like sell or refinance a property, or get a loan.
After all, a federal tax lien is viewed as a severe credit blemish by lenders, as well as others, including employers and landlords from whom you might want to rent an apartment.
Fortunately, there are ways to get an IRS tax lien removed from your credit report.
Here’s what you need to know to get that federal tax lien wiped off your credit files.
Qualifying For a Tax Lien Withdrawal
You can request that your tax lien be withdrawn as long as you meet these conditions:
- you have paid your tax bill and received a release of that obligation
- you have filed all required tax returns for the past three years, including any of your personal tax returns as well as business returns
- You are current on making any estimated tax payments and federal tax deposits, if required
Qualifying for a Tax Lien Removal When You Haven’t Paid All Taxes
Even if you still have an outstanding tax balance due to the IRS, you can still get a tax lien removed.
To do so, you must owe $25,000 or less and you need to enter into an installment agreement with the IRS under which you make monthly payments that are automatically debited from your bank account.
How to Apply for a Tax Lien Withdrawal
Once you are sure you qualify, to get the tax lien removed, simply fill out IRS Form 12277, Application for Withdrawal. This one-page form can be completed online.
After the IRS approves your request, the agency will write you providing you with a document called Form 10916(c), Withdrawal of Filed Notice of Federal Tax Lien. This document is your written prove that the lien has been withdrawn.
With this documentation in hand, you can either ask the IRS to notify the credit bureaus about the lien removal, or better yet, you can contact each credit bureau yourself to make sure it is done more quickly. Once you contact the three main credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – they should remove the liens within 30 days.
Best of all, the lien will be completely taken off your credit reports as if the lien never happened, and in many cases clearing up your credit files this way will help boost your credit scores.
Other Ways to Get a Federal Tax Lien Removed
According to the IRS, the agency may also withdraw a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, if:
- By withdrawing the lien, it will help you pay your taxes more quickly.
- The IRS didn’t follow proper procedures.
- The lien was filed during a bankruptcy automatic stay period, when the IRS generally stops most collection activity, or
- It’s in your best interest, as determined by the Taxpayer Advocate and in the best interest of the government. For example, this could include when your debt is satisfied and you request a withdrawal.
- You have fully paid an Offer in Compromise, and the lien was released.
Dealing With Other Tax Lien Situations
If you get a tax lien “discharge,” that removes the lien from a specific property. The point behind this discharge it to allow you to sell real estate when you intend to unload the property and use the proceeds to pay some or all of your tax debt.
If this situation applies to you, apply for something called a Certificate of Discharge. Check out IRS Publication 783, Instructions on How to Apply for a Certificate of Discharge From Federal Tax Lien, for more guidance on obtaining a Certificate of Discharge.
Finally, the IRS issues something called a Certificate of Subordination when you owe other creditors. A “subordination” doesn’t remove your federal tax lien, but it does allow other creditors to move ahead of the IRS, which may make it easier to obtain a loan or refinance a mortgage.
Be sure to read IRS Publication 784, Instructions on How to Apply for a Certificate of Subordination of Federal Tax Lien, if you need a loan but currently have a federal tax lien.