What Happens to Jointly Owned Property When One of the Owners Owes the IRS

Leonard and Joyce owned 50% of a commercial property. Their son, Derek, owned the other 50%. The IRS liened the property due to amounts owed by Leonard and Joyce to the IRS for unpaid taxes. The IRS sought to foreclose its tax liens and force a sale of the property. 50% of the proceeds would go to the IRS, and 50% would go to Derek.

The taxpayers argued that the district court should not order the sale.

Code Section 7403 provides authority to the government to file suit to enforce its lien and force a sale of the liened property. There is no exception in Section 7403 that prevents its operation even though there are “innocent third-party” interest holders in the subject property that do not owe taxes to the IRS. The U.S. Supreme Court, in US v. Rodgers, 461 US 677 (1983), confirmed that the Code Section authorizes the sale of the whole property in these circumstances, and that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution overrides any state law to the contrary that seeks to protect innocent third-party interest holders.

However, Code Section 7403…

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