Surprisingly, the IRS has partially released a $2.2 million dollar lien on Dionne Warwick's property for unpaid taxes from the 1990's. She still owes over $1 million dollars of that liability, so she's not out of the woods yet.
IRS liens are pretty easy for the service to invoke. They must:
1. Assess the liability;
2. Send a Notice and Demand for Payment reciting the amount owed;
3. Wait 10 days before filing.
Removing an IRS tax lien is a more difficult issue. The lien is only good for 10 years, then it goes away by operation of law, but the IRS rarely goes the extra step and affirmatively dismisses or withdraws the lien. This can cause problems with title examiners if you go to sell your house, for instance.
You can get liens released if you pay the tax in full, of course. The IRS will also release if you post a bond guaranteeing payment. However, the IRS started a new program last Summer that allows the lien to be released after 3 months of timely debits toward an agreed installment plan with the IRS, if you owe less than $50,000.00. This is a huge development. If they fail to release the lien, they owe you damages in Federal court.