Collection of delinquent property taxes continues

According to Rebecca N. Bartlett, Lincoln County’s Clerk and Master, there are approximately 64 parcels of land to be sold in the upcoming delinquent property tax sale. 

“The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has not delayed the process of collecting taxes, so if there is a property owner with delinquent taxes, please do not be misled or misinformed,” said Ms. Bartlett. “The Clerk and Master’s Office is open and accessible to the public. Payments may also be made by telephone or may be mailed into Chancery Court.”

Most people do not realize that when taxes become severely delinquent, a lawsuit is filed on behalf of the taxing entity, and the delinquent property owners become defendants in a lawsuit which was filed with the court in order to collect the taxes.

The 2018 delinquent property tax lawsuits have just been filed with the court so property owners can go ahead and take care of those taxes before more additional fees are added by law.

The 2017 delinquent tax parcels will be auctioned off, individually, at the Lincoln County Courthouse to the highest and best bidder with the bid for each parcel to begin at an amount equal to all the taxes and fees that are due on a particular parcel.

She stressed officials are still hoping the owners will pay the taxes before an auction becomes necessary.

 “Neither the Clerk and Master, Lincoln County, the City of Fayetteville nor the Town of Petersburg wants to sell property for delinquent taxes, but this is the only way to collect some taxes,” she said. “It’d be great if we didn’t have to have a sale.”

Before the collection of the taxes was transferred to the court, the owners were allowed to make partial payments to the Trustee but now additional interest has accrued as well as any other fees which are allowed by law, she noted. The Clerk and Master’s Office takes several steps to insure property owners are made aware that their land is in danger of being sold, she said.

Notices were sent out to Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office to be personally served at the last known address of the owner. If some owners live out of town or have a different mailing address, service was attempted by certified mail with the United States Post Office, she explained. All of the parcels with property owners who cannot be found or if all owners were not served, then a notice is published in The Elk Valley Times for four consecutive weeks in order to make sure all owners have had notification of the pending delinquent property taxes.

Just prior to the sale, an advertisement listing the property, along with a description, will appear later in The Elk Valley Times.

Even if the land is sold, those persons entitled to redeem, may pay the fees and be able to redeem the property before the statutory time for redemption has expired and the sale is final, according to Ms. Bartlett.

 “The Clerk and Master gives no warranties on property bid on or sold at the sale,” she said. “It is the buyer’s responsibility to know what he or she is bidding on.”

People wanting more information or desire to pay overdue taxes on their property can see Ms. Bartlett at her office in the courthouse or call 931-433-1482.