Can IRS Go After Florida Homestead Property?

When it comes to safeguarding your home from creditors, Florida’s homestead exemption provides one of the strongest protections in the United States. However, many homeowners wonder about the extent of this protection, especially concerning federal entities like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Specifically, can the IRS place a lien on a property designated as a Florida homestead?

Understanding the Homestead Exemption in Florida

First, it’s important to clarify what the Florida homestead exemption entails. This legal provision protects your primary residence from most creditors, ensuring that, in many cases, your home cannot be forcibly sold to satisfy debts. This exemption applies automatically to your primary residence under Florida law, as long as you meet certain residency and property requirements.

IRS Liens: An Exception to the Rule

While the Florida homestead exemption offers broad protections, it does not provide an absolute shield against all types of creditors. Federal tax liens, such as those levied by the IRS for unpaid taxes, are a notable exception. The United States federal government, through the IRS, can place a lien on any property owned by a taxpayer who has delinquent tax debts, including a homestead in Florida.

How an IRS Lien Works

An IRS lien is a legal claim against property, including real estate, personal property, and financial assets, when you fail to pay your tax debt on time. The lien secures the government’s interest in your assets as a creditor. For homeowners in Florida, this means that despite the homestead exemption, the IRS can attach a lien to the property. This lien does not usually result in the immediate sale of the home but does attach to the title, affecting your ability to sell or refinance the property without first clearing the debt.

The Process and Protections

If the IRS decides to place a lien on your property, they must first notify you of the tax debt and give you an opportunity to resolve it. If unresolved, they will issue a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, publicly declaring the IRS’s legal right to your property. However, the homestead law still offers some layer of protection; for instance, the IRS may be less likely to force the sale of a primary residence compared to other types of assets. Instead, they often wait until the homeowner decides to sell or refinance the home.

Jon Alper

About the Author

I’m a nationally recognized attorney specializing in asset protection planning. I graduated with honors from the University of Florida Law School and have practiced law for almost 50 years.

I have been recognized as a legal expert by media outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I have helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors.