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State of California, Tax Lien and Statue of Limitations

Portland, OR |

The State of California lists a Tax Lien on my credit report from 2003 for over $9,300 that is just now appearing on my Credit Report. I moved out of CA in 2000 so I am assuming this is for a period in the late 90's. I have never received correspondence demanding payment or notification of the lien. I know there is no statue of limitations for unfiled taxes, but I'm fairly certain I filed every year.

If the lien went into effect in 2003, how long before the Statue of Limitations runs out? I'd rather not poke a bear to see if this is a valid amount due and have them come after me in their aggressive fashion. I have purchased two homes, and several vehicles since 2003 and never once did I have an issue with this. Now all of a sudden it's an issue. Any other avenues do I have? Thx

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Attorney answers 2


The statute of limitations for the State of California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) to collect tax is 20-years from the assessment date, otherwise known as the statutory lien date. The statute of limitations can be tolled under certain circumstances. I've included a link to a section of the FTB's that discussed the statute of limitations.

They might have recently got around to filing a lien against you in the records office. That would appear on your credit score. You can call the FTB and ask for the assessment date, or you can retain a tax professional to investigate the matter for you.

Good luck.

This material does not constitute tax, legal or accounting advice. It was not intended or written for use and cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any IRS or NYS penalty. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only as a service to the public, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel, nor does it constitute advertising or a solicitation. This response is not intended to create, and does not create, an attorney-client relationship between you and the author.


The State of California has a long statute of limitations ("SOL") for collection -- 20 years, where a lien is filed within 10 years of the assessment date. That SOL is twice as long as the Federal tax collection SOL. If you don't address this debt, it will have an adverse effect on your credit record for many years to come. In addition, if you bank at an financial institution which has a branch in California, or if you are employed by an entity or company that has an office or business operations in California, you could find your bank account or paycheck docked by an Order to Withhold (which is similar to an IRS Notice of Levy). In addition, some States have tax collection reciprocity agreements with each other and with the dearth of tax funds presently available to the States and the ever-more integrated nature of the U.S., this trend is likely to accelerate in future years.

You may wish to contact the Franchise Tax Board to work out an installment payment plan in order to retire that tax debt and remove that derogatory reference from your credit record.

The answer to this question does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Moreover, this attorney is licensed to practiced law ONLY in the State of California. Answers to questions from users in other jurisdictions or states are meant to provide only general information. Users should contact a local attorney in their jurisdiction or state to address their specific tax issue.

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