By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
Seventeen bidders purchased 770 parcels of real estate property taxes during the recent Jefferson County delinquent tax sale.
“These are real estate taxes that have gone unpaid for the 2011 tax year, and includes the first installment, the second installment, or both installments that have not been paid. Either installment or both installments are sold at the tax sale,” explained Knox. “This is not selling property, it’s only selling taxes.”
The delinquent tax sale, described as an automated sale with bidders making purchases with the click of a mouse, was conducted on Dec. 28 and took about two hours to complete, Knox said.
“It’s a reverse auction that starts out at 18 percent, and bids come in at descending order. Whoever bids the lowest percentage rate that they are willing to make on the amount of taxes that needs to be paid, that’s the person who is awarded the bid,” Knox said. “Tax sale buyers are actually looking to make a percentage return on their money. It’s an investment for them. Most tax sale buyers are looking for the taxes that they buy to be redeemed soon after the sale. That way they can make a better return on their money faster.”
The county collected $660,362 through the tax sale that will be divided proportionately among the 100 or so taxing districts.
“It’s average. We had over 700 parcels last year, and we had over 700 parcels again. The tax sale was created so collectors would be able to collect all of the money they needed for taxing districts, and in order to collect that money in a timely manner,” Knox said, adding that receipts from the tax sale would be released later this month during the county’s final tax distribution.
Once taxes have been sold, they can be redeemed by property owners through the county clerk’s office.
“Starting today [Monday] they begin to call the county clerk’s office and find out what it will cost for them to redeem the taxes on their property,” Knox said. “It will clear their tax debt.”
Knox said if no action is taken by property owners to redeem taxes, and taxes continue to be unpaid for two or three years, successful tax sale bidders will be able to acquire the property through a judicial tax deed.
“If your taxes on your property remain unpaid for approximately two and one-half to three years then the tax sale buyer can go to a judge and ask him to issue a tax deed, and he can issue a tax deed for the property. That is the only way someone can lose their property — if their taxes remain unpaid for two to three years,” Knox said.