Most pension plans and retirement savings are exempt
from the claims of creditors, except for Uncle Sam! Tax liens
do attach to IRA's, 401 K's, and pension plans,
and, liens generally pass through bankruptcy unaffected.
Thus, while a bankruptcy
may discharge your personal liability and protect assets that
you acquire after the bankruptcy, any prepetition tax lien
survives as a charge on assets owned at the time of the filing.
These tax liens, if not released, can cause a huge upset in your
retirement budget if the IRS tries to enforce the lien when the
retirement plan is in pay status.
When considering whether to seek a formal
release of a tax lien for which the personal liability has been
discharged in bankruptcy, consider whether you have any form of
retirement savings that might be subject to that lien if not
Our experience has been that the IRS does not
have a system in place to distinguish bankruptcy cases where it
might have a valid tax lien on a non obvious asset, like a 401K,
and at present does not appear to be routinely
monitoring or renewing these liens after a bankruptcy
discharge. But this could change.
If this fact pattern describes your situation,
get experienced bankruptcy counsel.