11 U.S. Code § 724. Treatment of certain liens
Section 724 of the House amendment adopts the provision taken in the House bill and rejects the provision taken in the Senate amendment. In effect, a tax claim secured by a lien is treated as a claim between the fifth and sixth priority in a case under chapter 7 rather than as a secured claim.
Treatment of certain liens: The House amendment modifies present law by requiring the subordination of tax liens on both real and personal property to the payment of claims having a priority. This means that assets are to be distributed from the debtor’s estate to pay higher priority claims before the tax claims are paid, even though the tax claims are properly secured. Under present law and the Senate amendment only tax liens on personal property, but not on real property, are subordinated to the payment of claims having a priority above the priority for tax claims.
Subsection (a) of section 724 permits the trustee to avoid a lien that secures a fine, penalty, forfeiture, or multiple, punitive, or exemplary damages claim to the extent that the claim is not compensation for actual pecuniary loss. The subsection follows the policy found in section 57j of the Bankruptcy Act [section 93(j) of former title 11] of protecting unsecured creditors from the debtor’s wrongdoing, but expands the protection afforded. The lien is made voidable rather than void in chapter 7, in order to permit the lien to be revived if the case is converted to chapter 11 under which penalty liens are not voidable. To make the lien void would be to permit the filing of a chapter 7, the voiding of the lien, and the conversion to a chapter 11, simply to avoid a penalty lien, which should be valid in a reorganization case.
Subsection (b) governs tax liens. This provision retains the rule of present bankruptcy law (§ 67(C)(3) of the Bankruptcy Act [section 107(c)(3) of former title 11]) that a tax lien on personal property, if not avoidable by the trustee, is subordinated in payment to unsecured claims having a higher priority than unsecured tax claims. Those other claims may be satisfied from the amount that would otherwise have been applied to the tax lien, and any excess of the amount of the lien is then applied to the tax. Any personal property (or sale proceeds) remaining is to be used to satisfy claims secured by liens which are junior to the tax lien. Any proceeds remaining are next applied to pay any unpaid balance of the tax lien.
Subsection (d) specifies that any statutory lien whose priority is determined in the same manner as a tax lien is to be treated as a tax lien under this section, even if the lien does not secure a claim for taxes. An example is the ERISA [29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.] lien.
Subsection (b) governs tax liens. It is derived from section 67c(3) of the Bankruptcy Act [section 107(c)(3) of former title 11], without substantial modification in result. It subordinates tax liens to administrative expense and wage claims, and solves certain circuity of liens problems that arise in connection with the subordination. The order of distribution of property subject to a tax lien is as follows: First, to holders of liens senior to the tax lien; second, to administrative expenses, wage claims, and consumer creditors that are granted priority, but only to the extent of the amount of the allowed tax claim secured by the lien. In other words, the priority claimants step into the shoes of the tax collector. Third, to the tax claimant, to the extent that priority claimants did not use up his entire claim. Fourth, to junior lien holders. Fifth, to the tax collector to the extent that he was not paid under paragraph (3). Finally, any remaining property goes to the estate. The result of these provisions are to leave senior and junior lienors and holders of unsecured claims undisturbed. If there are any liens that are equal in status to the tax lien, they share pari passu with the tax lien under the distribution provisions of this subsection.
2010—Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 111–327 substituted “507(a)(1)(C) or 507(a)(2)” for “507(a)(1)”, “this chapter” for “chapter 7 of this title”, and “507(a)(1)(A), 507(a)(1)(B),” for “507(a)(2),” and inserted “under each such section” after “such expenses”.
2005—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 109–8, § 701(a)(1), inserted “(other than to the extent that there is a properly perfected unavoidable tax lien arising in connection with an ad valorem tax on real or personal property of the estate)” after “under this title” in introductory provisions.
Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 109–8, § 701(a)(2), inserted “(except that such expenses, other than claims for wages, salaries, or commissions that arise after the date of the filing of the petition, shall be limited to expenses incurred under chapter 7 of this title and shall not include expenses incurred under chapter 11 of this title)” after “section 507(a)(1)”.
Subsecs. (e), (f). Pub. L. 109–8, § 701(a)(3), added subsecs. (e) and (f).
1994—Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 103–394, § 304(h)(4), substituted “507(a)(6), or 507(a)(7)” for “or 507(a)(6)”.
1984—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 98–353, § 477(a)(1), substituted “a tax” for “taxes” in provisions preceding par. (1).
Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 98–353, § 477(a)(2), substituted “any holder of a claim of a kind specified” for “claims specified”, “section 507(a)(1)” for “sections 507(a)(1)”, and “or 507(a)(5) of this title” for “and 507(a)(5) of this title”.
Amendment by Pub. L. 109–8 effective 180 days after Apr. 20, 2005, and not applicable with respect to cases commenced under this title before such effective date, except as otherwise provided, see section 1501 of Pub. L. 109–8, set out as a note under section 101 of this title.
Amendment by Pub. L. 103–394 effective Oct. 22, 1994, and not applicable with respect to cases commenced under this title before Oct. 22, 1994, see section 702 of Pub. L. 103–394, set out as a note under section 101 of this title.