Note: Subsequent to this posting, new Georgia legislation was enacted changing some of the new provisions. For details, see our posting on March 12, 2018.
With the enactment of House Bill 337, the state of Georgia has made significant changes to its state tax lien (STL) law, which became effective on January 1, 2018. Understanding the changes is critically important for due diligence searchers so that relevant information on the public record is not overlooked.
Georgia State Tax Lien Requirements BEFORE 2018
Before we discuss the changes, let’s review some of the Georgia state tax lien requirements in place through 2017.
- State tax liens had a seven-year effective period.
- Previously filed STLs could be renewed by the Department of Revenue (DOR) perpetually.
- In order for an STL to ‘attach’ to real and/or personal property of the debtor, the DOR filed the STL in all counties where the debtor had property. The STL then would ‘attach’ to property owned in each specified county.
New Georgia State Tax Lien Requirements Effective January 1, 2018
- State tax liens have a 10-year effective period.
- The DOR may NOT renew the STL.
- Many, but not all, STLs previously active in the Georgia public record were renewed by the DOR on or about January 1, 2018.
- All renewed state tax liens will be valid for a single ten-year period from the date of renewal.
- For renewed STLs, the original pre-2018 filing date appears on the STL and can be used for priority purposes.
- The DOR will file one STL referencing the last known county of the debtor but the STL will ‘attach’ to the debtor’s real and/or personal property statewide. This change eliminates the need for the DOR to file STLs in multiple counties.
- A new ‘State Revenue Department Pending Lien Search’ index has been created. The DOR submits STL through this new electronic system, which alerts third parties to a new pending STL when a search is conducted. Once the STL is processed, the pending STL is removed from the pending lien system and can be found on the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority site on the Georgia Consolidated Lien Index.
- The legislation was silent concerning removal from the system of STLs that were not renewed. Thus, there may be ineffective liens that remain on the public record.
- Accordingly, after January 1, 2018, searches for STL in Georgia should only be conducted on the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority website. Searching at the county level is no longer necessary and not advised.
All of This May Change Again Very Soon!
Georgia House Bill 661, introduced on January 8, 2018, revises many of the provisions of House Bill 337. The proposed effective date is February 15, 2018. This new bill appears to radically alter the statewide index and appears to limit the effectiveness of STLs only to the real property in the county where the STL is filed. We will keep our readers informed as this new bill makes it ways through the legislative process in Georgia.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.