Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tax sale draws about $1.4 million
By SUE WATSON
Bidders at the real property tax sale August 31 turned speculators making extra money for the county, according to tax collector Betty Byrd.
The overbidding slowed the sale of the delinquent taxes unpaid from 2008 and bidding ran over a half day longer than usual, she said.
“That’s fine by me; I’ll sit over there and make the county that money,” Byrd said.
Out of a sale of 2,101 parcels, $1,398,815.52 was collected with $67,000 of that collection coming from overbidding, Byrd said. There were some new bidders this year who had money to speculate with.
Collections have gone well this year, Byrd said, and the economy has not checked property owner’s ability or willingness to pay their taxes. Real property tax collections for year 2008 brought the county $15 million, she said. The total collected on personal property taxes will not be available until the fiscal year ends September 30.
This year the tax sale hit on the last day of the month which put deputies with the tax collector’s office to a test. The monthly close-out fell on the same day as the tax sale. But her staff met the task in good spirit, she said.
“I’d like to thank my staff for their hard work because it’s a very stressful time during tax sale,” she said.
Those property owners whose parcels were sold for taxes owed in 2008 can redeem their tax lien immediately, thereby stopping the accrual of interest at 1.5 percent a month or 18 percent per annum. Tax liens can be redeemed at the chancery clerk’s office now.
Byrd said rarely does a tax buyer actually have to accept a tax deed in lieu of taxes paid plus interest on a parcel. Most property owners redeem their liens before their property has been through the sale twice, she said.
The sales are popular with investors who can earn up to 18 percent interest a year on a parcel or 36 percent if the property owner waits until the deadline to redeem their unpaid taxes.
The chancery clerk’s office does everything possible to keep a property owner from losing their property in a tax sale, she said. The tax liens are published each year prior to the tax sale and property owners are sent a certified letter, as well as mortgage holders, reminding the owner that their property tax lien is coming due, she said. The chancery clerk published tax liens on 2006 taxes about a month before the tax liens would have matured this year.
“Every attempt is made to keep people from losing their property in a tax sale,” Byrd said.
This year’s tax sale drew 135 buyers.
Byrd said there has probably been no overbidding in the last three years, but new buyers and some old buyers upped the ante this year because interest rates in general are low.
The last time the tax sale went over into a second day was in year 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit, she said. The sale was continued on a Tuesday by candlelight, she said. And that was probably the last year there was overbidding until this year, Byrd said.
Photo by Sue Watson
(Front) Paul Calame and Ronnie and Grace Jones listen to the bidding at the August 31 tax sale.
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