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Pennsylvania Tax Liens

What is a tax lien?

A lien is defined as a charge on real or personal property for the satisfaction of debt or duty. The Department of Revenue files a lien with the county Prothonotary Office when an individual or business has unpaid delinquent taxes. When a lien is filed, it becomes a matter of public record. The lien ensures the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is listed as a priority creditor that must be paid before other financial transactions can take place (home sales, business transfer, obtaining a loan, etc.). The department files liens for all types of state taxes: corporation taxes, sales & use taxes, employer withholding taxes, personal income taxes, inheritance taxes, motor fuels taxes, realty transfer taxes and various other taxes.

How to pay off a lien?

A lien is removed when the department receives confirmation that the past-due liability has been resolved. The lien satisfaction process will start approximately 45 days after the resolution has occurred.

If there is a Department of Revenue lien filed against you or your business, and you want to resolve your tax liability, complete the Lien Payoff Request Form (REV-1038).

How does the department use liens?

A lien allows the department to pursue progressive tax enforcement strategies such as wage garnishment, sales tax and employer withholding citations, and administrative bank attachment.

What is the lien list?

The lien lists are public lists available online. There are two lien lists: one represents delinquent individual taxes and the other represents delinquent business taxes. The lists identify the original lien amounts for any certified tax lien filed against an individual and/or business. The current tax owed may differ from the amount listed on the lien lists due to partial payments and/or additional interest and penalties. The lists are updated monthly; therefore, a satisfied lien will still appear on the list until the next monthly update is published.

The lien lists include the individual or business name, city/state/county of the last known address for the delinquent taxpayer, the lien total, docket number and lien filing (docket) date.

Why are liens public?

The department files liens in the county Prothonotary’s Office where the taxpayer resides or does business. Liens, along with most other court records, are public documents.

How can I get a lien removed from the credit bureau report?

The Department of Revenue does not report lien information directly to the credit bureau agencies. However, the tax lien and the cancellation of the lien are considered public information that credit bureau agencies can obtain on their own. When a lien is satisfied, the department sends you a lien satisfaction notice. You can send a copy of the notice to credit bureau(s) requesting to modify or remove the lien from your credit report.

Who will contact me about a tax lien?

The Department of Revenue will mail taxpayers a Certified Copy of Lien letter to notify them that a lien has been filed with the County Prothonotary’s Office. The department also contracts with outside law firms, including Wong Fleming and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, for out-of-state lien enforcement. As a result, taxpayers may receive notices from law firms working for the Department regarding liens. If you have any questions about a notice or a lien, please contact the Department of Revenue’s Bureau of Compliance at 717-787-3911.