Q: I’m a CPA with a client who owes prior year income tax to the Georgia Department of Revenue and has been delinquent for about a year under an installment agreement for payments. My client is moving to California but the Georgia DOR has placed a lien on their property.

Not being an attorney, I don’t understand the ramifications of Georgia DOR ‘hampering’ their move. What’s the best way to go about finding them some legal assistance?

A: You should contact a real estate attorney for help. Having a lien attached to a piece of property means that your client won’t be able to sell their home without satisfying the lien (paying it off). If the property is under water, or worth less than the mortgage amount, the lien will still have to be satisfied or a different arrangement for payment will have to be made with the Georgia tax authorities.

When a person has an amount owed to the State, the State doesn’t want to chase after that taxpayer for the money. So the State places a lien on his property. If the person tries to sell the property, he will have to deal with the State to get the lien removed by making a payment to the state.

If there is no equity in the property and your client is working on a short sale, your client may be able to contact the State to see if they will remove the lien upon the sale. They probably recognize that if your client’s lender isn’t getting out of this sale whole, there isn’t any money for the State and they may be willing to release the lien without payment.

You can find a good real estate attorney by going to the nearest Bar Association or the bar association nearest you and asking for the head of the real estate committee. Explain what the problem is and ask for a referral.

If you need information about tax liens, you should follow the same procedure and ask for the head of the tax committee.