It's not too likely but I guess it is possible in some cases. If the IRS has a lien the bank can't sell it so it has to get rid of the lien. I have sold two properties this year that had IRS liens and the IRS dropped or reduced the lien when they realized there was no money being made on the short sale. Liens can be made to go away. But the bottom line is the bank owns the house and has some amount of value for it in their minds. Let's say $100,000 and there is a $20,000 tax lien. Why sell it for $20,000 when you could pay off the lien and sell it for $80,000? If the house was worth less than the lien, I bet they would sell it to you for the lien amount, but would you even want it?