Below is information regarding tax liens and the levy and tax sale process. Please note the following:
- At no time can any employee of the tax commissioner's office provide legal advice. If your property is involved in a tax lien, levy or tax sale and you have questions about processes or about your legal rights, we recommend that you seek professional advice.
- If you are interested in purchasing a property at tax sale, we strongly encourage you to seek professional advice before participating in the sale.
- The Tax Commissioner's office is in no way responsible for any misconceptions of the law or of procedures held by anyone, nor for any legal missteps taken by anyone in the tax sale process other than actions taken by the tax commissioner's office.
When an account becomes delinquent, the tax commissioner may issue a tax lien against the property. A tax lien, also known as a Fi.Fa., from the Latin term Fieri Facias, may also be referred to as a tax execution. A tax lien is a claim or encumbrance placed on a property that authorizes the tax commissioner or the sheriff to take whatever action is necessary and allowed by law to obtain overdue taxes. It is also the first step in taking the property to tax sale.
For real property, the tax commissioner must issue a 30-day notice to the property owner before filing the lien. Liens on personal property may be filed at any time after the account becomes delinquent. Liens remain filed until taxes are paid in full, and may affect personal credit records, real property closing procedures and other legal processes. A Fi.Fa. filing fee is also added to the delinquent account.
To satisfy a lien, payment may be made to the tax commissioner using cash, check, credit card (convenience fees apply), cashier's check or money order. The tax commissioner accepts partial payments but does not offer formal payment plans. Making partial payments on delinquent property does not necessarily prevent the property from progressing to levy and tax sale.
If payment is not made after a Fi.Fa. is issued, the tax commissioner will proceed to foreclose upon and sell the property to obtain the taxes due.
The tax commissioner does not transfer tax liens in bulk to any third-party investor as a general means of collecting delinquent taxes.
Once a tax lien has been filed, the tax commissioner may levy on the property. A levy of a tax lien is the act of setting aside a portion or a whole of a delinquent taxpayer’s property to satisfy the lien. In other words, a levy is a "seizure" of property on which taxes are owed.
In the case of real property, "seizure" may be made by posting a sign on the property to that effect. This does not affect the ownership of the property, nor does it affect the right of the property owner to reside on the property.
When levied upon, personal property is seized in the literal sense. The tax commissioner may take inventory of and store personal property until taxes are paid or until the property is sold at tax sale.
In all cases, notice is sent when a property has been levied upon. At this stage, additional levy costs and fees are added to the delinquent account, and only certified funds are accepted as payment. Certified funds include cash, cashier’s check or money order. Checks, credit cards and bank cards are not accepted. No partial payments will be accepted once a property has been levied upon.