What is a Tax Sale?
Most people would agree that a "tax sale" is a situation to avoid if at all possible. But, what exactly is a tax sale? What happens when a piece of property is being prepared for sale? And, more important, what safeguards are in place to protect the interests of the property owner?
A tax sale is the sale, by a government, of a piece of real (land/home) or personal property (boat, office equipment, etc) to pay for delinquent taxes, taxes that have not been paid by the due date.
If a tax sale is scheduled, an auction of the property is conducted on the courthouse steps on the first Tuesday of the month. However, long before the sale begins, the Tax Commissioner's office begins a lengthy process designed to protect the rights not only of the property owner but also of any renters and mortgage or lien holders.
The procedure for preparing a tax sale is outlined below:
As can be seen, this process, which takes approximately two months from start to finish, gives the property owner ample notice of an impending sale and allows him/her the opportunity to prevent it by paying the taxes and any other charges owing.
Sales of personal property are final, but real property can be redeemed for up to one year by paying the new owner the amount of the winning bid plus 20 percent (this must be done through the Tax Commissioner's office). The new owner is advised not to spend money on changes or improvements to the property until after the year is up, because such expenditures cannot be reimbursed.