Some landowners cheat government out of taxes
Posted in the Wilmer Forum
An interesting article appeared on the front page of the Mobile Register - "Suit: Law lets county cheat some landowners" by Dan Murtaugh. As a law-abiding taxpayer in this county, and as a regular participant in the annual auction conducted by Mobile County of properties with delinquent taxes, I find it quite necessary to respond.
Let me start by saying that the title to this article is far off-base. A more correct title would have been something like "Some landowners cheat government out of taxes then whine when the laws are enforced".
In May of 2005, there were a total of 1,552 properties in Mobile County for which the owners did not pay their property taxes. The total burden to the county was a whopping $1,096,430.04 - the amount of the taxes owed to Mobile County plus the costs that Mobile County had incurred trying to exercise due-process of law in notifying the delinquent taxpayers. That is more than one-million dollars that could have been used for all those things that people keep complaining about every day: paving dirt roads, repairing potholes, the education of our children, paying our local law enforcement personnel and firemen, properly staffing government offices - the list goes on and on.
By the first Thursday in June, some of those delinquent taxes had been paid by the landowners - but not many. Those properties for which the taxes had not been paid were now on the auction block, and there were some serious men and women present at the auction eager to pay those taxes and costs and to alleviate the heavy burden that was placed upon Mobile County by the non-taxpaying landowners.
The process that Dan Murtaugh wrote about for the purchase and redemption of tax lein properties is correct. What Dan didn't tell everyone is that in following this process the Mobile County Revenue Commissioner's office is violating State of Alabama Code, Section 40-10-122, "Manner of redemption when land sold to party other than state." Here, it clearly states "In order to obtain the redemption of land from tax sales where the same has been sold to one other than the state, the party desiring to make such redemption shall deposit with the judge of probate of the county in which the land is situated the amount of money for which the lands were sold, with interest payable at the rate of 12 percent per annum from the date of sale, and, on the portion of any excess bid that is less than or equal to 15 percent of the market value..."
The violation by the Mobile County Revenue Commissioner's office is in that they allow the delinquent taxpayer the right to redeem their properties by paying only the amount of tax and cost, plus interest. If the Revenue Commissioner's office had been following the letter of the law, then Mr. Robert F. Clark would have been in the following, more detrimental, situation:
"Mr. Clark owed $1,100 in 2003 taxes, plus collection costs that Dan did not mention. The property was sold at auction for $11,000. If Mr. Clark had redeemed his property from the tax lien holder within the three years allotted to him by law, then according to Section 40-10-122 of Alabama Code he would have been required to deposit with the judge of probate $11,000 plus interest at 12 percent on any portion of that paid-in amount that did not exceed 15 percent of the property's market value at the time of the sale. Once the money had been deposited, in full, with the judge of probate, a timely process would have taken place at additional cost to all taxpayers within Mobile County and, eventually, Mr. Clark would have been refunded the excess amount that was bid in during the sale at auction."
For more, see http://www.mobilealonline.com
Since: Jan 13
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