Memorandum of Decision Re: Avoidance of Tax Liens

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Decisions
IN THE UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
In re GORDON and VIRGINIA RANEY,                                                                                           No. 96-14371              Debtors. ___________________________/
Memorandum
     The debtors seek to avoid several state tax liens as judicial liens pursuant to section 522(f)(1)(A). There are at least 20 reported cases refusing to avoid tax liens as judicial liens (see, e.g., In re Ridgley, 81 B.R. 65, 68 (Bkrtcy.D.Or.1987)), which is not surprising as the term "judicial lien" is statutorily defined at section 101(36) of the Bankruptcy Code and clearly does not encompass tax liens.      There is a single case which has avoided tax liens as judicial liens: In re Frost, 111 B.R. 306 (Bkrtcy.C.D.Cal.1990). In that case, Bankruptcy Judge Eisen held that personal property tax liens were avoidable because state law provided that such liens have the "force, effect, and priority of a judgment lien." While the court has reservations about this holding, it would follow in an uncontested motion such as this. However, the tax liens at issue in this case are primarily sales tax liens (and one small income tax lien). Debtors have cited no similar statute to the one relied upon in Frost, but only a statute (Cal. Code of Civil Procedure section 688.030) which provides that when property is levied upon pursuant to enforcement of a tax lien the debtor is "entitled to the same exemptions to which a judgment debtor is entitled."      "Entitled to the same exemptions" is not the same thing as "force, priority and effect." The sales tax and income tax liens are not judicial liens, and are therefore not avoidable under section 522(f)(1)(A). The motion will accordingly be denied. Debtors may submit a form of order.
Dated: May 27, 1998                                                                                             _______________________                                                                                                                                Alan Jaroslovsky                                                                                                                                U. S. Bankruptcy