A tax lien is a method used by a lender and/or creditor to secure payments on debts owed to the government that are not paid in a timely fashion. A tax lien can affect your credit score, as well as your ability to secure a loan, or buy a home or vehicle. There are a few easy steps you can follow in order to find out if you or someone with whom you are doing business has a tax lien.
Perform a background check. There are many Internet sites such as Intellius.com and CrimCheck.com, which allow you do a background check on yourself or on a business. Some of these sites require you to pay a fee to sign up, but this is far less expensive than not checking at all, and getting unfortunate information in the future. Most sites can instantly give you the information you request, including tax liens found under a specific social security number, or business.
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File your federal taxes. The IRS automatically runs your social security number in their system. If a debt shows such as a tax lien, you should receive a letter in the mail stating that all, or part of, your owed taxes have been paid from the refund your were due. If you are not eligible for a refund, you will receive a letter informing you how much is owed.
Call the Department of the Treasury Offset Program at (800) 304-3107. This is an automated system that requests your social security number and date of birth, and then informs you if you owe tax debt. If you are due a tax refund and have a tax lien against you, the IRS may deduct the amount you owe in taxes from your refund. You can also call this automated system to find out the amount of a tax refund you will receive.