Have an IRS Tax Lien? How to Successfully Sell or Refinance

As a real estate investor and private lender in Utah, I’ve encountered numerous situations where homeowners are struggling with IRS tax liens. I’ve seen firsthand how these liens can complicate selling or refinancing a home, but I’ve also learned there are ways to navigate this challenge successfully. Let me share my experience and insights on dealing with IRS liens in Utah, particularly when it comes to selling or refinancing your property.

Understanding an IRS Tax Lien

Before we dive into solutions, it’s crucial to understand what an IRS tax lien is and how it affects your property. In my years of working with Utah homeowners, I’ve seen many misconceptions about tax liens.

An IRS tax lien is a legal claim against your property when you neglect or fail to pay a tax debt. This lien attaches to all your assets, including real estate, personal property, and financial assets. It’s important to note that the lien itself doesn’t mean the IRS will immediately seize your property, but it does give them the right to your assets before other creditors.

In Utah, I’ve noticed that many homeowners don’t realize they have a tax lien until they try to sell or refinance their home. This is because the lien is typically filed with the county recorder’s office, and you may not receive direct notification.

The Impact of Tax Liens on Selling or Refinancing

The Impact of Tax Liens on Selling or Refinancing

From my experience in the Utah real estate market, I can tell you that an IRS tax lien can significantly complicate the process of selling or refinancing your home. Here’s what I’ve learned:

When potential buyers discover a tax lien on a property, they often get cold feet. They worry about inheriting the debt or dealing with legal complications.

Most conventional lenders are hesitant to approve mortgages or refinancing for properties with tax liens. This can severely limit your options.

The lien amount effectively reduces the equity you have in your home, which can impact your ability to refinance or the amount you can walk away with from a sale.

Dealing with the IRS to resolve the lien can be time-consuming, which may not align with your timeline for selling or refinancing.

Successfully Selling a Home with an IRS Lien in Utah

Despite these challenges, I’ve helped many Utah homeowners successfully sell their properties even with IRS liens. Here are some strategies I’ve found effective:

1. Negotiate a Discharge of the Lien

One approach I’ve used is to negotiate with the IRS for a discharge of the lien. This doesn’t eliminate your tax debt, but it removes the lien from a specific property, allowing you to sell it. The process involves:

  • Submitting Form 14135 to the IRS
  • Providing detailed information about the property and the proposed sale
  • Demonstrating that the sale will benefit the IRS by partially or fully satisfying the tax debt

I’ve found that the IRS is often willing to cooperate if they see that the sale will help resolve the outstanding tax issue.

2. Use the Sale Proceeds to Pay Off the Lien

Another strategy I’ve employed is to arrange for the tax lien to be paid off directly from the sale proceeds. This typically involves:

  • Coordinating with the title company to ensure the lien is paid at closing
  • Obtaining a payoff amount from the IRS
  • Ensuring all parties (buyer, seller, IRS) agree to the arrangement

This approach can be particularly effective in Utah’s hot real estate market, where home values have appreciated significantly in recent years.

3. Consider a Short Sale

In some cases where the tax debt exceeds the home’s equity, I’ve helped homeowners pursue a short sale. This involves:

  • Getting approval from the IRS for a short sale
  • Finding a buyer willing to purchase the property “as-is”
  • Negotiating with the IRS to accept less than the full lien amount

While this can be a complex process, it can be a viable option for Utah homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage and have a significant tax lien.

Refinancing with an IRS Lien

Refinancing with an IRS lien can be tricky, but I’ve helped Utah homeowners navigate this successfully. Here are some strategies I’ve used:

1. Subordination of the Lien

I’ve worked with homeowners to request that the IRS subordinate their lien. This means the IRS agrees to move their lien to a lower priority position, allowing a new lender to take the first position. To achieve this:

  • File Form 14134 with the IRS
  • Demonstrate that subordination will ultimately help the IRS collect the tax debt
  • Show that refinancing will improve your financial situation and ability to pay taxes

2. Partial Payment Installment Agreement

In some cases, I’ve helped Utah homeowners set up a partial payment installment agreement with the IRS. This can make lenders more willing to refinance, as it shows you’re actively addressing the tax debt.

3. Offer in Compromise

For some clients, I’ve explored the option of an Offer in Compromise, where the IRS agrees to settle the tax debt for less than the full amount owed. If accepted, this can clear the way for refinancing.

My Approach as a Real Estate Investor and Private Lender

My Approach as a Real Estate Investor and Private Lender

As someone deeply involved in Utah’s real estate market, I’ve developed a unique approach to helping homeowners with IRS liens:

1. Cash Offers for Homes with Liens

I often extend cash offers to purchase homes with IRS liens. This can be an attractive option for homeowners because:

  • It provides a quick solution without the need for traditional financing
  • I can handle the complexities of dealing with the IRS lien
  • It offers certainty in an otherwise uncertain situation
  • Contact me here

2. Private Investor Loans

In some cases, I offer private investor loans to homeowners with IRS liens. This can be beneficial because:

  • I have more flexibility than traditional lenders in working with liens
  • We can structure the loan to help resolve the tax debt
  • It can provide the funds needed to pay off the lien or enter into an agreement with the IRS

Real-Life Utah Success Stories

Let me share a couple of success stories from my experience in Utah:

  1. Salt Lake City Home Sale: I worked with a homeowner in Salt Lake City who had a $50,000 IRS lien on their property. We negotiated a discharge with the IRS, allowing the sale to proceed. The lien was paid from the sale proceeds, and the homeowner was able to move on without the burden of tax debt.
  2. Provo Refinance: A Provo homeowner came to me struggling to refinance due to a $30,000 IRS lien. We successfully subordinated the lien, allowing them to refinance at a lower rate. The cash-out portion of the refinance was used to set up a payment plan with the IRS.

Read more reviews here.

Tips for Utah Homeowners with IRS Liens

Based on my experience, here are some key tips for Utah homeowners dealing with IRS liens:

  1. Don’t ignore the problem. The sooner you address it, the more options you’ll have.
  2. Communicate with the IRS. They’re often more willing to work with you than you might expect.
  3. Explore all your options. Whether it’s discharge, subordination, or other strategies, there’s usually a solution.
  4. Consider working with a tax professional. They can provide valuable guidance in navigating IRS procedures.
  5. Be aware of Utah-specific resources. The Utah State Tax Commission can sometimes provide additional assistance or information[2].
  6. Keep accurate records. Document all communications with the IRS and keep detailed financial records.
  7. Act quickly in Utah’s fast-moving real estate market. Opportunities can arise quickly, so be prepared to move when they do.

How I Can Help

If you’re a Utah homeowner dealing with an IRS lien and considering selling or refinancing to access equity, I’m here to help. My experience as both a real estate investor and private lender gives me unique insights into resolving these complex situations.

I offer free, no-obligation cash offers on homes with IRS liens. This can be a quick and straightforward way to resolve your situation and move forward. Additionally, I can explore private investor loan options that might help you refinance and address your tax debt.

Every situation is unique, and I’m committed to finding tailored solutions for each homeowner I work with. Whether you’re in Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden, or anywhere else in Utah, I’m ready to put my experience to work for you.


Dealing with an IRS lien while trying to sell or refinance your Utah home can be daunting, but it’s not insurmountable. With the right approach and expert help, you can navigate this challenge successfully. Remember, the key is to be proactive, explore all your options, and don’t be afraid to seek professional assistance.

If you’re facing this situation, don’t hesitate to reach out here. I’m here to offer my expertise, whether that’s through a cash offer on your home or exploring private lending options. Together, we can find a solution that works for you and helps you move past this financial hurdle.

In my years of working in Utah’s real estate market, I’ve seen time and again that there’s always a way forward, even in the most challenging situations. With persistence, the right strategy, and a willingness to explore creative solutions, you can successfully sell or refinance your home, even with an IRS lien.

Gary Parker

I was a part owner in an electrical contracting firm in the late 1990’s and started to get interested in real estate around 2001. My business partner and I bought our first rental property in 2002. From there we did several real estate transactions until we decided to close the electrical business and part ways. In 2009 I started Gary Buys Houses which is owned by my wife, Eileen, and I. I felt like I could offer one on one personal service to people that wanted to sell their house quickly or not worry about repairs and such. Today, I have built a reputation of being fair and honest with people no matter their situation, so the business continues to help people and be successful. I have been married for 34 years, and have one son, two step sons and 4 grandchildren. I like to travel and spend time in Southern Utah exploring. https://www.garybuyshouses.com/

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