New Georgia State Tax Lien Requirements Effective January 1, 2018 with changes February 20, 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.

Since then, Georgia enacted House Bill 661, effective February 20, 2018, which reverses many of the provisions that became effective on January 1, 2018.

Since many of the changes effective January 1, 2018 are still in effect, below, we’ve provided a recap of those changes indicating what has been reversed.

New Georgia State Tax Lien Requirements Effective January 1, 2018 – Item in italics no longer true as of February 20, 2018.

  • State Tax Liens have a 10-year effective period.
  • The Department of Revenue (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 STLs 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 STL in multiple counties.
  • A new ‘State Revenue Department Pending Lien Search’ index has been created. The DOR submits STLs through this new electronic system, which informs 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 (GSCCCA) 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 STLs in Georgia should only be conducted on the GSCCCA website.  Searching at the county level is no longer necessary and not advised.

How the Latest Changes Affect STL Searching in Georgia

While House Bill 661 made many substantial changes to the requirements of the prior bill, there are a few significant changes that searchers need to be aware of when searching for STL in Georgia.

Effective with the enactment of House Bill 661 on February 20, 2018, the following now applies to STLs:

  • No STL filed before February 20, 2018 has statewide attachment.
  • STLs only attach to real property in the county designated by the DOR.
  • While all searches are still conducted via the GSCCA online system, this may result in STL findings for a single debtor in more than one county.

The good news for third party due diligence searchers is that the DOR will continue to utilize the electronic Pending Lien system to enter and file STLs. This enables searchers to search for pending STLs as they are processed through the Georgia electronic filing system and to the specific county indicated by the DOR. Once the STL is no longer pending, it can be found by searching the GSCCCA Lien Index. The length of time a STL goes from the Pending Lien index to the GSCCA Lien index appears to be varying from county to county.