Sunday, February 22, 2015

Our court breathes life into Maryland tax liens.

On February 3, 2015, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals confirmed that tax liens do not die after 12 years.  You might die, but the tax lien on your land will survive you.

In State of Maryland  v. Shipe, a citizen argued that tax liens are good only for twelve years, and must be renewed like any other judgment lien if they are to extend beyond twelve years. The Comptroller argued that liens held by the State of Maryland might be enforced like ordinary judgment liens, but they are exempted from the renewal requirement. The court summarized its decision this way:
The State maintains that a recorded tax lien has the full force and effect of a judgment lien, and therefore, like other judgments held in favor of the State, it does not expire. Appellee disagrees, stating that a tax lien is not perpetual and that the General Assembly’s clear intent was to impose a temporal duration of no more than twelve years for a tax lien judgment subject to renewal. We agree with the State. 
So, there you have it-- a tax lien does not die.It will remain as an encumbrance on your land for longer than twelve years. The State of Maryland need not renew the lien like an ordinary judgment creditor.

There remain other means to attack a tax lien, but the appellate court has now eliminated the easiest.