Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Property Taxes and Home Foreclosures

Overheard at Church
It has been about one month since the Truth in Taxation statements came to our mailboxes. In fact it was during Advent and fervent preparations for Christmas. We attended the Sunday School Christmas program for our grandchildren, held in Olivia, Mn. While waiting for the start of the program, I overheard a conversation of two gentlemen sitting behind me. It went something like this. “You know the reason our property taxes are increasing so much is because of all these home foreclosures. Those people just walk away from their obligations and the taxes go unpaid.”
This peaked my interest and I did some investigation. The bottom line is that the old adage is true. The certainties in life are-Death and Taxes. Bridgette Kennedy, Nicollet County Auditor/Treasurer explained what happens in these cases. When taxes are not paid, the schools, cities, townships, and county do not get paid. However, the tax obligation is still on the property and whoever owns it must eventually pay it. If a new owner comes on the scene, the sale cannot be completed without all back taxes and/or penalties being paid. In a worst case scenario, the county sells the property at a tax forfeiture sale in an effort to recoup the taxes.
Kennedy said that it is typical over the past several years that we collect around 97% of current levies. If property sits on the market for awhile or is going through foreclosure, the taxing units just wait. It may take several years, but eventually, the tax money will be collected.
The idea that other property owners must make up the difference for those not paying is false. Once the levy is set, it cannot be redistributed simply because of a few home foreclosures. end

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