A federal tax lien can be attached to any type of property you own, your house, car, etc. They can absolutely make your life miserable. Banks don't want to lend you money with your house as collateral because they don't want to go through the mess of dealing with the IRS. Your credit turns to dust. If you own a business the IRS can attach your receivables. They will stand right by your cash register and as a customer pays you they confiscate the funds.