How to Check for Tax Liens

How to Check for Tax Liens. When a property owner is delinquent on federal, state or local taxes, the government may place a tax lien on the property. Liens are attached to the property and must be paid when the property is sold. It's important to find out if there are any tax liens against a property before you purchase it so that you won't be liable for the debt.


Step 1

Visit the website of the municipality or county where the property is located. Property information is public record, and many local offices list liens along with other property information on their websites. You'll need the owner name or the address of the property.

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Step 2

Call the tax collector or property assessor at the municipality or county if the information is not included on the website. You may need to visit in person to sign forms or make copies.


Step 3

Subscribe to an online service like RealtyTrac or Intelius. With your membership, you can search for property and owner information, including liens.

Step 4

Contact a title company. Tell the agent you're interested in the property and give the address. A title examiner will search for liens on the property. There may be a fee for this service. Liens are paid at settlement.


Step 5

Purchase title insurance when you buy a property. If liens are discovered after settlement, the insurance will pay for them. Your real estate agent will recommend a title company, or you can find one locally or online.