More than 4 years ago, we bought a house that was previously used as a business by the previous owner. Recently, we received a letter addressed to our property that stated the day care owed a large sum of money in back taxes and penalties. I will do what I can to get the information to the previous owners, but there isn't much more I can do. My concern, however, is that the business is somehow tied to the house and that we may get involved because we currently own the home.

Is there any way that we can held liable for a business the previous owners ran in our current home?


As noted in the comments, this was a letter addressed to the business and our address. The letter was unintentionally opened by one of my family members. The mistake was only realized after initially believing that the taxes were our own. After reading a bit about the accidental opening of mail addressed to others, I am following the requirement to simply seal it back up and send it back to the sender. Since the content was not intended for me directly, I don't believe it is legally proper for me to contact anyone about it until something is addressed to me personally.

  • @JoeTaxpayer Thank you for updating the tags. The notice was for business income tax. The notice was addressed to the name of the day care (with our address) and the letter was unintentionally opened by one of my family members while on auto mode opening bills (I know, a big no-no, but an honest mistake in this case).
    – T James
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 5:03
  • great! I think you are all set now, and can rest easy. Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 9:45

3 Answers 3


There are some cases in which a tax lien on a business can attach to the owner's house.

One scenario is that part of the house was owned in the name of the business. This may be plausible given the daycare was operating out of it.

Another scenario is that there was no separate legal business entity. This would be the case if the daycare was a run as a sole proprietorship or partnership.

You should contact your title agent and title insurance ASAP, since your policy likely says you need to tell them immediately if there's a possible claim. They should analyze the situation and tell you what to do.

  • Thank you for the information. I added an update to my question that gives a little more detail and some concerns after I spent some time reading some legal stuff.
    – T James
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 6:25

You are right to be concerned. The former owner of the home has financial problems and the creditors are reaching to try and collect.

Even if they have zero chance of getting money from you there is a chance that this isn't the only attempt that will be made. If the situation is gotten this bad, they creditors may be reaching out to anything they can connect to the company in debt.

When you purchased the house, your mortgage company insisted on getting title insurance. They verified that there were no liens on the property. They did this as a part of protecting their investment. They had you purchase title insurance for them to make sure that if a mistake was made in the title search, or some other problem with ownership, they were protected. You also had an opportunity to purchase a policy to protect you in case a title issue occurred.

Contact the title insurance company, and contact your lender. One or both might want to do a check the local government records to make sure that a lien hasn't been attached to the property since the settlement date.


It may be - depending on jurisdictions - but ONLY for taxes that are attached to the house (property, ground etc.). And again, only in SOME jurisdictions.

THis is not the case here. THis is basically a business and the only reason you got the email is that they got sloppy in their paperwork and did not change the address (likely they just gave up).

Actually no, the only reason you know that is because you committed a crime in most jurisdictions - a big one in the US - in opening letters addressed to someone else (yes, your address, but not your name).

I somehow have problems with your justification "letter addressed to our property" - it was EXTREMELY likely NOT addressed to your property ("to the owners of the house" or "to whomever it may concern"). It was addressed to a business or a person, so even if the addresses matches, you have no legal standing in opening it and committed a crime by doing so.

  • You're very correct that it was addressed to the name of the business and our address, but the person who opened it truly did not realize the mistake until it was opened and viewed (even thinking initially that the taxes were related to our own taxes). After realizing the mistake, we have done what we can to get the information where it needs to go, but it is impossible to un-see and forget the content.
    – T James
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 5:13

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