I Owe The Government Money Can They Take My Car?

I Owe The Government Money: Can They Take My Car?

Many people find themselves in a situation where they owe the government money. Whether it’s due to unpaid taxes, fines, or other debts, it’s a stressful situation. A common concern is whether the government can seize their car to satisfy the debt. Let’s explore this topic in depth.

Can The Government Seize Your Car?

In general, the government has the right to seize your assets if you owe them money. However, the process is not as straightforward as it might seem.

Provincial and Federal Laws

In some provinces, such as British Columbia, if your vehicle is worth $5,000 or less, a creditor cannot seize it to satisfy a judgment or other unsecured debts1. However, federal laws may override these provincial regulations.


NOTE: Federal laws may not always adhere to provincial rules about asset seizure.


The Value of the Car

Even if you owe the federal government money, they may not be interested in taking your car unless it has significant value. This is because the time and cost involved in seizing and selling the car might outweigh the amount they would recover1.

Vehicle Financing

If you have outstanding financing on your vehicle, this further complicates the matter. The amount the government would recover after selling the car and paying out the financing might not be sufficient to justify the seizure1.

Lien Against Your Assets

In many cases, instead of seizing your assets, the government will register a lien against them. This secures their claim on your property without them having to physically take it from you.

What is a Lien?

In legal terms, a lien is a claim or a “hold” put on an asset by a creditor until the debt is paid off.

Consequences of a Lien

A lien against your car means that the government has a legal claim to it. You cannot sell or transfer the vehicle without first clearing the lien.


While the government can potentially seize your car if you owe them money, it is not a decision they take lightly. The value of the car, the presence of any financing, and the cost of seizure and sale all factor into their decision. However, they may choose to place a lien on your vehicle, restricting your ability to sell or transfer it until the debt is settled.

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