Solo and Small Firm

The Practitioner Fall 2015, Volume 21, Issue 3

Nothing is Certain but . . . : Tax Liens and the Judgment Creditor

By James C. Eschen

James Eschen hung out his shingle in Santa Cruz in 1997. His real property and business litigation practice has ranged from unlawful detainers to intellectual-property disputes. His article, "Your Rental Unit is in Foreclosure: Now What?" appeared in the August 2011 Big News. He can be reached at (831) 466-0753 and

Aclient had an award from the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement for unpaid wages to enforce. He wanted fast action—the employer was liquidating and had posted the company’s equipment on eBay. Fortunately, a sheriff’s levy or two would go a long way to paying him what he was due.

But the Secretary of State’s website1 showed bad news. Like many employers not paying their employees, this one was not paying other bills, either. Specifically, it had outstanding tax liens to the Internal Revenue Service and the Franchise Tax Board. Any money that my client got from a sheriff’s levy, and any fee I received, could well end up in Uncle Sam’s pocket. We closed the file—at least for the time being.

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