The following is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice or services. It is not intended to create any attorney–client relationships. We cannot represent you and our taxing unit clients at the same time. Do not act on any of the following information without seeking the advice and counsel of an attorney of your choice.
Q: The tax bill is for property that was sold last year, is the seller liable for last year's taxes due on it?
A. Yes. If the seller owned the property on January first of last year, the seller is liable for the taxes for all of last year. The taxing unit can proceed against the seller personally for the tax and against the buyer to foreclose the tax lien. However, the buyer should be informed of the taxes since the buyer has a vested interest in not having the tax lien foreclosed on the property. Additionally, most contracts for the sale of real property provide that the taxes for the year of the sale will be prorated between the buyer and seller. A reading of the sales contract and any closing statement received when the property was sold will probably indicate how the tax liability was handled. But the taxing unit was not a party to the contract and is not bound any of the contract's provision as to tax liability.
Q: The taxes are on my homestead. Can my homestead be sold to pay the taxes?
A. Yes. A person's homestead can be sold to pay the taxes, penalties and interest assessed against the homestead unless the person is over 65 years of age or disabled (as defined by Social Security Administration) and has filed a tax deferral affidavit with the appraisal district before a lawsuit was filed or files a motion to abate the lawsuit if a lawsuit has already been filed.
Q: What happens if the tax is not paid?
A: Additional penalties and interest are charged to the account. Delinquent tax notices will continue to be sent. There may be problems selling the property because of the delinquent tax lien on the property. A delinquent tax suit can be filed seeking a judgment foreclosing the tax lien and authorizing the sheriff to seize the property and sell it at public auction.
Q: Can the tax collector just take the property to pay the taxes?
A: No. The legal procedure is to file a lawsuit, obtain a judgment foreclosing the tax lien and authorizing the sheriff to seize the property and sell it at public auction.
Q: I never went to court. Why do I have to pay court costs?
A: Court costs are assessed by the court clerk's office any time a lawsuit is filed. A lawsuit cannot be dismissed unless all taxes and court costs are paid in full.