In civil forfeiture proceedings (under 21 U.S.C. § 881), the United States is obligated to pay liens for state and local taxes accruing after the commission of the offense leading to forfeiture and before the entry of a judicial order of forfeiture, if the lien-holder establishes, before the court enters the order of forfeiture, that it is an innocent owner of the interest it asserts.
In criminal forfeiture proceedings (under 18 U.S.C. § 1963 or 21 U.S.C. § 853), the United States may not pay such liens because state and local tax lien-holders are not bona fide purchasers for value of the interests they would assert, and therefore do not come within any applicable exception to a statute that, upon entry of a court’s final order of forfeiture, vests full ownership retroactively in the United States as of the date of the offense.