BY MELANIE WADE –
Polk County received a large check from the Commissioner of State Lands Office (COSL) as part of an $18 million return to counties across the state from 2016 payments of delinquent real estate taxes and proceeds from excess of taxes due from the sell of delinquent properties. Commissioner John Thurston recently announced the turnback totaled $18,244,997.50. Polk County received $1,980.83 from excess taxes on sales and $89,511.73 from delinquent tax payments, totaling $91,492.56.
“Our whole purpose in collecting delinquent real estate taxes, and in selling long-delinquent properties, is to get that funding to the counties where it is owed,” Thurston explained. “When we sell properties that have been delinquent for many years, it gets them back onto the county tax rolls, producing income that helps a county with its roads, schools, and emergency services.”
There is a public auction coming up for the sale of tax delinquent land in Polk County on September 13, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the Polk County Extension Office in Mena. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. the day of the sale. An online catalog of available properties can be found at www.cosl.org. Under ‘Catalog of Tax Delinquent Lands,’ you will find statutes governing the sales, auction dates for other counties, times, locations, and other pertinent information regarding parcels being sold. “Bidding begins at the amount of taxes and fees that are due,” Thurston explained. “Owners of delinquent parcels should remember that they have only 10 days to redeem their property if it sells at auction.” To request a Petition to Redeem, a delinquent property owner can visit their website www.cosl.org or call 501-324-9422.
Since Thurston took office in 2011, almost $119 million has been returned to counties across the state. Although turnback totals have slightly declined over the last few years, Thurston says more properties are being returned to county tax rolls.
“More people are purchasing property now, since bidding begins lower and the waiting period is shorter,” said Thurston. Until 2013, the law stated bidding at auctions began at the assessed value of the land and processes took longer. Under the new law, bids can begin at accrued delinquent tax amounts and related penalties, and the redemption and litigation periods were reduced.
According the COSL, property is certified when it becomes two years delinquent and owners have two years beyond that to redeem the property before it goes to public auction. Any parcels that do not sell at auction are placed on a post-auction sales list where the public can submit offers.