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Did Offer in Compromise with IRS cover both spouses?

March 31, 2017
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler,

I hope you can help. My wife and I purchased a house in Cape Coral in 1998. My wife passed away in 2012, and now I want to sell the property and move to be closer to my family on the East Coast. The title search came back showing there is a Federal Tax Lien on my house. I had attempted to handle this back in 2013 through an Offer in Compromise to the IRS, and they did record a release of the lien. They are saying I cannot close. What can I do?

- Pat M.

Dear Pat,

Thank you for the question. Your situation is one I am sure many of us dread the IRS being involved in any aspect of our lives. Generally, the Federal Tax Lien will cloud title on any Florida property, even homestead. Nearly all other debts and judgments will not stop a sale, but an IRS lien will. The next step is to determine how to resolve the lien.

Generally speaking, the IRS requires payment unless alternate arrangements are made through an Offer in Compromise, which is what you did. I note that the year you entered the agreement was the year after your wife passed away. I assume this was a joint tax liability, and that you and your wife jointly owned your home. If so, you may have personally entered into the agreement with the IRS, and not on behalf of your spouse. If so, the IRS may have only released the lien against you, rather than you and your spouse. Without more information, I cannot pinpoint where the problem lies. However, if the IRS did send you a release of lien form, you should check to see if it released both of you. If it did not, you can contact the IRS for clarification, or hire an attorney or CPA for assistance.

Until this is resolved, a buyer will likely not accept title with this lien still attached. Best of luck for a speedy resolution.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for 28 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continued his service to the community through his chairmanship of the Harney Point Kiwanis Club KidsFest from 2011-2015, which provides a free day of fun and learning to thousands of Cape Coral families, and funds numerous scholarships. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for 14 years, and they have four children together. Recently, he earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is also a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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