A federal tax lien is a form of attachment against all the property of the taxpayer. It arises within 10 days after the tax is assessed and is not paid after notice and demand by the IRS. It is a statutory lien and does not need to be recorded in order to attach to the taxpayer's property. It is routinely recorded by the IRS, however, in order to establish its priority as to other encumbrances against the taxpayer's property. It also needs to be recorded in order to attach to any property of a taxpayer who files for protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. (See an extensive discussion on The Federal Tax Lien elsewhere on this Web site. Also see the recent due process limitations placed on it in the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. Finally, if you own real property, you may wish to link to Sale of Property Encumbered by a Federal Tax Lien.