A tax lien is the government’s legal claim of your assets and is used when you owe back taxes to recoup your tax debt. A lien is used whether you are an individual or a small business owner. Liens are public information once they are recorded. They lead to credit damage. Also many companies will search through public information to gather the names of people who have IRS liens, and then solicit them for clients. This is a nuisance, of course, for the taxpayer who gets the advertisements, phone calls, etc.