This section is from the book "The Law Of Real Property and Other Interests In Land", by Herbert Thorn Dike Tiffany. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise on the Modern Law of Real Property and Other Interests in Land .
In most of the states it is provided by statute that taxes on a particular piece of land shall constitute a lien thereon. In the absence of such an express provision, there is, it is sometimes said, no such lien.14 But the effect of a statute authorizing a sale of the land for taxes is undoubtedly to make, in effect, the taxes a lien on the land, since any purchaser or incumbrancer acquires his interest subject to the possibility of such sale unless the taxes are paid.15 Occasionally, taxes due on per11. Blood v. Light, 38 Cal. 649, 99 Am. Dec. 441; Castleberry v. Weaver, 30 Ga. 534; French v. Allen, 50 Me. 437; Hall v. Crocker, 3 Mete. (Mass.) 245; Doe d. Huggins v. Ketchum, 20 N. C. 414; Young v. Schofield, 132 Mo. 650, 34 S. W. 497; 2 Freeman, Executions, Sec. 195.
12. O'Rourke v. O'Connor, 39 Cal.'442; Phillips v. Roquemore, 96 Ga. 719, 23 S. E. 855; Holden v. Garrett, 23 Kan. 98; Righter v. Forrester, 1 Bush (Ky.) 278; Sappington v. Oeschli, 49 Mo. 244; Davis v. Owenby, 14 Mo. 170, 55 Am. Dec. 105.
13. Hawkins v. Files, 51 Ark.
417, 11 S. W. 681; O'Hara Y. Booth, 29 La. Ann. 817; Davidson v. Beard, 9 N. C. 520; Stephens v. Keating (Tex.) 17 S. W. 37; Stevenson v. Texas & P. Ry. Co., 105 U. S. 703, 26 L. Ed. 1215.
14. Miller v. Anderson, 1 S. D. 539, 11 L. R. A. 317, 47 N. W. 957; Morrow v. Dows, 28 N. J. Eq. 463; City of Philadelphia v. Greble, 38 Pa. St. 339; Cooley, Taxation, 447.
15. See Dunlap v. County of Gallatin, 15 III. 7; Dougherty v. Miller, 36 Cal. 83; Hoglen v. Cohan, 30 Ohio St. 436; Stokes v. State, 46 Ga. 412; Lyon v. Alley, 130 U. S. 177, 32 L. Ed. 899.
Sonalty are made a lien on the land of the owner.16
Usually the lien for taxes on the land is, by the statute, imposed upon the land as a whole, and not upon any particular estates or interests therein, so that all equities, interests, and incumbrances, whether they accrued before or after the levy or assessment of the tax, are subordinate to the lien, and liable to be divested by a sale for taxes.17
In the absence of any statutory provision determining the time of the inception of the lien, it commences at the time when, "by an extension of the tax upon the roll, a particular sum has become a charge upon a particular parcel of land."18 This is a matter of importance only for the purpose of determining which of two private individuals shall pay the tax, when, as is ordinarily the case, the tax is a lien on the land as a whole, and not on a particular interest therein.
Assessments for local improvements also may be, and usually are, liens on the land assessed for benefits from the improvement.19 The assessment may even take precedence of liens and incumbrances placed on the land before the commencement, or even the ordering, of the improvement.20
16. See New England Loan & Trust Co. v. Young, 81 Iowa, 732, 10 L. R. A. 478, 39 N. W. 116, 46 N. W. 1103; Union Trust Co. v. Weber, 96 III. 346; State v. City of Newark, 42 N. J. L. 38; Albany Brewing Co. v. Town of Meriden, 48 Conn. 243; Miller v. Anderson, 1 S. D. 539, 11 L. R. A. 317, 47 N. W. 957; Cooley, Taxation, 445.
17. Osterberg v. Union Trust Co., 93 U. S. 424, 23 L. Ed. 964; Dunlap v. County of Gallatin, 15 III. 7; Keating v. Craig, 73 Mo. 507; Howell v. Essex County Road Board, 32 N. J. Eq. 672; Cooper v. Holmes, 71 Md. 20, 17 Atl. 711. But the statute is sometimes construed as giving a lien only on the interest of the person primarily bound to pay the tax. See Rhein Bldg. Ass'n v. Lea, 100 Pa. St. 210; O'Neill v. Dringer, 31 N. J. Eq. 507; Shaw v. City of Allegheny, 115 Pa. St. 46, 7 Atl. 770; Morrow v. Dows, 28 N. J. Eq. 459. And a tax on personalty is generally construed as intended to be a lien only on the interest in the land of the person owing taxes, State v. City of Newark, 42 N. J. L. 38; Miller v. Anderson, 1 S. D. 539, 11 L. R. A. 317, 47 N.. W. 957; Carter v. Rodewald, 108 III. 351. Contra, New England Loan & Trust Co. v. Young, 81 Iowa, 732, 10 L. R. A. 478, 39 N. W. 116, 46 N. W. 1103.
18. Cooley, Taxation (2d Ed.) 448; Black, Tax Titles, Sec. 189.
19. Lyon v. Alley, 130 U. S.
United States internal revenue taxes are, by express statutory provision, made liens upon the property of the persons liable therefor, subject to the qualification that the lien shall not be valid as against any mortgagee, purchaser, or judgment creditor, until notice thereof is filed by the collector in the office of the clerk of the United States court for that district or, when authorized by the state, in the office of the recorder of deeds.21