Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 5, 2011

Delinquent property taxes up Owners may be in worse shape than they think

CATLETTSBURG — People who don’t pay delinquent property taxes to Boyd County can be in a worse situation than they realize.

Not paying those taxes can lead to tax bills being sold, liens being placed on property and eventually to foreclosure on property, Boyd County Clerk Debbie Jones said.

On April 16, the county clerk’s office received 2,414 delinquent tax bills worth $1,288,774.69. That’s a little more than the 2,369 delinquent tax bills that came in last year for 2009 taxes.

Since April 16, 588 of those bills worth about $499,200 had been paid.

As of Thursday, the clerk still had 1,826 outstanding delinquent tax bills worth more than $729,500, Jones said.

Tax bills that aren’t paid on time immediately begin racking up penalties, she said. A 21 percent penalty is charged on the day they become delinquent and after that 1 percent interest on the bill amount is added each month it remains delinquent.

“We know that’s a burden on the taxpayers,” Jones said.

Jones and her staff try to make paying tax bills easier for people. The clerk’s office is able to set up payment plans for people with delinquent taxes, she said. They must pay half of the value of the bill initially, but after that Jones can set up weekly or biweekly payments.

“We’ll do all we can do to help them get their taxes paid,” she said.

Making even partial payments on a tax bill makes it less attractive to the third-party purchasers who buy delinquent taxes every August, Jones said. Those purchasers, usually companies that buy tax bills in bulk as an investment, usually don’t buy tax bills that have partial payments made or that are bills for tangible property or mobile homes. They tend to prefer property tax bills on homes or businesses.

That’s not always guaranteed, though. Last year was the first year Jones can remember third-party purchasers buying bills with partial payments.

The 2010 delinquent taxes will be advertised on July 9 and sold on Aug. 9.

Payments aren’t an option after tax bills are sold, Jones said. The companies that purchase tax bills require that the full price of the bill be paid at one time. Those purchasers also add their own fees to the bill price and continue to charge the 1 percent per month interest.

Jones said it’s often difficult for taxpayers who couldn’t manage to make payments on their tax bills to save enough money to pay the whole amount.

She said buyers began really becoming interested in buying delinquent tax bills in 2007 and in the past she’s sold as much as $1 million in delinquent tax bills at sales.

When a purchaser buys a tax bill, they have 50 days to notify the taxpayer, Jones said. A lien is also immediately placed upon the property that won’t be lifted until the tax bill and extra fees and interest have been paid. A piece of property with a lien on it cannot be sold until the lien has been lifted.

Penalties and interest can add a lot to the cost of a delinquent tax, which is why some considered them a good investment. But the ultimate cost of a delinquent tax bill can be greater, she said.

After a purchaser has owned a delinquent tax bill for one year and one day, they are entitled to foreclose on the property in order to recoup their investment, Jones said.

That possibility is another reason why she encourages anyone with a delinquent tax bill to contact the county clerk’s office by coming by the Boyd County Courthouse in Catlettsburg or calling (606) 739-5116.

KATIE BRANDENBURG can be reached at kbrandenburg@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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