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What is a tax lien assignment?
An assignment is the transfer of a legal interest. In its most basic form, one party (the Assignor) agrees to sell and/or transfer its legal interest in something to a third party (the Assignee). The parties will typically draft a separate purchase agreement for the asset to be assigned. The assignment will then be executed by the parties once the sale is complete.
Tax lien assignments
Assignments are very common in many different areas of law and finance. Probably the two most common types of real estate related assignments are assignments of a mortgage/deed of trust or a purchase contract assignment (e.g., wholesalers). Just as the rights under a promissory note or under a purchase agreement can be assigned, a tax sale certificate can assign his or her tax lien.
There are many different reasons why an investor may assign a tax lien. For example, an investor may purchase a tax lien hoping that the property redeems so that they can recoup their investment, plus the interest that accrued. If the property does not redeem, and the investor does not want the property, he or she can assign the tax sale certificate and tax lien to another investor. The new tax sale certificate holder then assumes all of the rights under the tax certificate, including the right to foreclose and to take title to the property upon the judgment. Importantly, the new certificate holder also assumes the right to collect the refund (plus interest) upon redemption of the property.
The assignment agreement is a private agreement between the two parties and the assignment price may be for more or less than the redemptive value of the tax lien. Once an agreement is reached an Assignment of Tax Sale Certificate is executed. The new holder must then notify the County (and the court, if applicable) and may record the assignment among the County land records.
Contact Attorney Ryan Lewis to schedule a free consultation
The Law Office of Ross W. Albers would like to introduce our newest team member, Ryan D. Lewis, of O’Connell, Doyle & Lewis, LLC. With this addition, we now offer new options for real property tax liens, foreclosures, landlord/tenant disputes, and multiple other real estate law issues. Ryan D. Lewis brings a vast array of real estate law knowledge which allows him to identify and quickly adapt to your legal issue. Which, minimizes your risk and when combined with his ability to leverage your asset protection, can increase your wealth through your investment.
Mr. Lewis, as well as the rest of our team, is committed to guiding you through the entire process of a tax lien purchase. We want to see your investment grow and benefit you as well as help you with any legal issue that arises throughout the process. Give the Law Office of Ross W. Albers a call today and start working with the leading Maryland tax lien attorney.
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Tax lien investing is risky for most investors. Here’s what to know before jumping in
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Tax lien investing can give your portfolio exposure to real estate — all without having to actually own property. Experts, however, say the process is complicated and warn that novice investors can easily get burned. Here’s everything you need to know about investing in a tax lien certificate, including how it works and the risks involved.
What is a tax lien?
A tax lien is a legal claim that a local or municipal government places on an individual’s property when the owner has failed to pay a property tax debt. The notice typically comes before harsher actions, such as a tax levy, where the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or local or municipal governments can actually seize someone’s property to recover the debt.
What are tax lien certificates?
A tax lien certificate is created when a property owner has failed to pay their taxes and the local government issues a tax lien. The certificate shows the taxes that are owed along with any interest and penalties. Tax lien certificates are typically auctioned off to investors looking to profit.
How tax lien investing works
To recover the delinquent tax dollars, municipalities can then sell the tax lien certificate to private investors, who take care of the tax bill in exchange for the right to collect that money, plus interest, from the property owners when they eventually pay back their balance.
Currently, 29 states plus Washington, D.C. allow for the transfer or assignment of delinquent real estate tax liens to the private sector, according to the National Tax Lien Association, a nonprofit that represents governments, institutional tax lien investors and servicers. Here’s what the process looks like.
1. Investors have to bid for the tax lien in an auction
Tax lien investors have to bid for the certificate in an auction, and how that process works depends on the specific municipality. Would-be investors should start by familiarizing themselves with the local area, the National Tax Lien Association recommends. Contact tax officials in your area to inquire how those delinquent taxes are collected.
Auctions can be online or in person. Sometimes winning bids go to the investor willing to pay the lowest interest rate, in a method known as “bidding down the interest rate.” The municipality establishes a maximum rate, and the bidder offering the lowest interest rate beneath that maximum wins the auction. Keep in mind, however, that as interest rates fall, so do profits.
Other winning bids go to those who pay the highest cash amount, or premium, above the lien amount.
2. The winning bidder pays the balance and handles foreclosure proceedings
What happens next for investors isn’t something that occurs on a stock exchange. The winning bidder has to pay the entire tax bill, including the delinquent debt, interest and penalties. Then, the investor has to wait until the property owners pay back their entire balance — unless they don’t.
Most homeowners have a so-called “redemption period” — what’s generally one to three years — before they’re required to pay the taxes plus interest in full. But if the homeowner doesn’t return the tax debt, the tax lien investor is the one responsible for kickstarting the foreclosure process, which would allow the investor to assume ownership of the property.
If you win a lien at auction, you must also learn your responsibilities. For example, in Illinois, within four months of purchasing a lien, you’re required to notify the property owners that you possess the lien and can foreclose if they don’t repay, says Joanne Musa, a tax lien investment consultant and founder of TaxLienLady.com. Then another letter must be sent before the end of the redemption period.
Benefits and risks of tax lien investing
Experts recommend thinking carefully about the risks involved before jumping into tax lien investing. While some investors can be rewarded, others might be caught in the crossfire of complicated rules and loopholes, which in the worst of circumstances can lead to hefty losses.
1. Tax liens can be a higher-yielding investment, but not always
From a mere profit standpoint, most investors make their money based on the tax lien’s interest rate. Interest rates vary and depend on the jurisdiction or the state. For example, the maximum statutory interest rate is 16 percent in Arizona and 18 percent in Florida, while in Alabama the rate is fixed at 12 percent, according to the National Tax Lien Association.
Profits, however, don’t always amount to yields that high during the bidding process. In the end, most tax liens purchased at auction are sold at rates between 3 percent and 7 percent nationally, according to Brad Westover, executive director of the National Tax Lien Association.
Before retiring, Richard Rampell, formerly the chief executive of Rampell & Rampell, an accounting firm in Palm Beach, Florida, experienced this firsthand. Rampell was part of a small group that invested in local tax liens in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At first, the partners did well. But then big institutional investors, including banks, hedge funds and pension funds, chased those higher yields in auctions around the country. The bigger investors helped bid down interest rates, so Rampell’s group wasn’t making significant money anymore on liens.
“At the end, we weren’t doing much better than a CD,” he says. “For the amount of work, it wasn’t worth it.”
2. Tax liens come with an expiration date
If the property owner fails to pony up the property taxes by the end of the redemption period, the lienholder can initiate foreclosure proceedings to take ownership of the property. But that rarely happens: The taxes are generally paid before the redemption date. Liens also are first in line for repayment, even before mortgages.
Even so, tax liens have an expiration date, and a lienholder’s right to foreclose on the property or to collect their investment expires at the same time as the lien.
After you’ve bought a lien, you may also want to pay taxes on the property in the years that follow, so no one else can purchase a lien and thus have a claim on the property.
“Sometimes it’s six months after the redemption period,” Musa says. “Don’t think you can just buy and forget about it.”
3. Tax lien investing requires thorough research
Individual investors who are considering investments in tax liens should, above all, do their homework. Experts suggest avoiding properties with environmental damage, such as one where a gas station dumped hazardous material. One reason for this: In the event of foreclosure, the property would be yours.
“You should really understand what you’re buying,” says Richard Zimmerman, a partner at Berdon LLP, an accounting firm in New York City. “Be aware of what the property is, the neighborhood and values, so you don’t buy a lien that you won’t be able to collect.”
Would-be investors should also check out the property and all liens against it, as well as recent tax sales and sale prices of similar properties. If a property has other liens, that might make it harder to gain its title in the event of foreclosure.
Yet, keep in mind that the information you find can often be outdated.
“People get a list of properties and do their due diligence weeks before a sale,” Musa says. “Half the properties on the list may be gone because the taxes get paid. You’re wasting your time. The closer to the date you do your due diligence, the better. You need to get an updated list.”
Because tax lien investing involves so much due diligence, it might be worthwhile to consider investing passively through an institutional investor who is a member of the National Tax Lien Association. Westover says 80 percent of tax lien certificates are sold to members of the NTLA, and the agency can often match up NTLA members with the right institutional investors. That might make managing the process easier, especially for a beginner.
While tax lien investments can offer a generous return, be aware of the fine print, details and rules.
“I’ve had a few clients and friends who have invested in tax liens on a big-time basis almost as a business and have done well,” says Martin Cass, regional director of private client services at BDO USA, an accounting firm in West Palm Beach, Florida. “But it’s complicated. You have to understand the details.”
— Bankrate’s Brian Baker contributed to an update of this story.
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What Is a Tax Lien?
Tax liens by the numbers, how can i invest in tax liens, tips for tax lien buyers, how to profit from a lien.
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How to generate profits from tax liens
Gordon Scott has been an active investor and technical analyst or 20+ years. He is a Chartered Market Technician (CMT).
One investment niche that is often overlooked by investors is property tax liens. A tax lien is a legal claim against the assets of an individual or business that fails to pay taxes owed to the government. In general, a lien serves as collateral for a debt such as a loan like a mortgage. If the obligation is not satisfied, the creditor may proceed to seize the assets.
But these claims on collateral can also be exchanged and traded among private investors seeking this type of alternative avenue in order to generate above-average returns. In some cases, this unique opportunity can provide knowledgeable investors with excellent rates of return.
Property liens can also carry substantial risk, which means that novice buyers must understand the rules and potential pitfalls that come with this type of asset. This article discusses tax liens, how you can invest in them, and the disadvantages of this type of investment vehicle.
- A tax lien is a claim the government makes on a property when the owner fails to pay the property taxes.
- Liens are sold at auctions that sometimes involve bidding wars.
- If you need to foreclose, there may be other liens against the property that keep you from taking possession.
- If you get the property, there may be unforeseen expenses such as repairs or even evicting the current occupants.
- You can also invest indirectly via property lien funds.
Click Play to Learn About Tax Lien Investing
A tax lien is a legal claim against the property of an individual or business that fails to pay taxes owed to the government. For example, when a landowner or homeowner fails to pay the taxes on their property, the city or county in which the property is located has the authority to place a lien on the property . The lien acts as a legal claim against the property for the unpaid amount that's owed. Property with a lien attached to it cannot be sold or refinanced until the taxes are paid and the lien is removed.
When a lien is issued, a tax lien certificate is created by the municipality that reflects the amount owed on the property, plus any interest or penalties due. These certificates are then auctioned off to the highest bidding investor. Investors can purchase tax liens for as little as a few hundred dollars if it is a very small property. However, the majority cost much more.
Investors can purchase property tax liens from a municipality, allowing them as the new lien owner to collect payments with interest from the property owner. In some cases, they may foreclose and attain title to the property.
First, let's address growing property tax values. In King County, Washington, property values increased 9% from 2021 to 2022. As a result, a total of $6.79 billion of property taxes were assessed in 2022, an increase of almost $200 million from the year prior. In some counties in Texas, over 95% of Texas residential properties increased at least 20% in value in 2022. In total, governments are assessing more and more property taxes. It's estimated that an additional $328 billion of property taxes were assessed across the United States in 2021.
It's difficult to assess nationwide property tax lien numbers for a few reasons. There is no single governing body over all property taxes; county assessors value your property, and county treasurers collect it. In addition, though aggregated reports exist, they require extensive aggregation of data that may be outdated by the time all information is assembled.
With that said, the National Tax Lien Association estimates the United States generates roughly $21 billion of delinquent property taxes each year. It also estimates that between $4 billion and $6 billion are posted for sale to the private sector each year.
Private reports also show the U.S. tax delinquency rate has relatively been decreasing over the past decade. According to CoreLogic, 6.3% of taxpayers were delinquent on their property taxes in 2021, though this declined to 5.9% in 2021. The states with the highest property taxes were Mississippi, Delaware, and Virginia, while North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin had the lowest delinquencies.
Investors can purchase property tax liens the same way actual properties can be bought and sold at auctions. The auctions are held in a physical setting or online, and investors can either bid down on the interest rate on the lien or bid up a premium they will pay for it. The investor who accepts the lowest interest rate or pays the highest premium is awarded the lien. Buyers often get into bidding wars over a given property, which drives down the rate of return that is reaped by the winning buyer.
Buyers of properties with tax liens need to be aware of the cost of repairs, along with any other hidden costs that they may need to pay if they assume ownership of the property. Those who then own these properties may have to deal with unpleasant tasks, such as evicting the current occupants, which may require expensive assistance from a property manager or an attorney.
Anyone interested in purchasing a tax lien should start by deciding on the type of property they'd like to hold a lien on—residential, commercial, undeveloped land, or property with improvements. They can then contact their city or county treasurer's office to find out when, where, and how the next auction will be held. The treasurer’s office can tell the investor where to get a list of property liens that are scheduled to be auctioned, as well as the rules for how the sale will be conducted. These rules will outline any preregistration requirements, accepted methods of payment, and other pertinent details.
Buyers also need to do their due diligence on available properties. In some cases, the current value of the property can be less than the amount of the lien. Investors can analyze risk by dividing the face amount of the delinquent tax lien by the market value of the property, and higher ratio calculations indicate greater risk. Furthermore, there may also be other liens on the property that will prevent the bidder from taking ownership of it.
Every piece of real estate in a given county with a tax lien is assigned a number within its respective parcel. Buyers can look for these liens by number in order to obtain information about them from the county, which can often be done online. For each number, the county has the property address, the name of the owner, the assessed value of the property, the legal description, and a breakdown of the condition of the property, and any structures located on the premises.
Don't invest in tax liens with the expectation that you will get a physical property out of it; about 98% of homeowners redeem the property before the foreclosure process starts.
Investors who are interested in locating tax lien investing opportunities should get in touch with their local tax revenue official responsible for the collection of property taxes. There are currently 2,500 jurisdictions cities, townships, or counties that sell public tax debt.
While not every state provides for the public sale of delinquent property taxes, if the state does allow the public auction of the unpaid property tax bill, investors should be able to determine when and where these taxes are published for public review. Property tax sales are required to be advertised for a specified period of time before the sale. Typically, the advertisements list the owner of the property, the legal description, and the amount of delinquent taxes to be sold.
Investors who purchase property tax liens are typically required to immediately pay back the full amount of the lien to the issuing municipality. In all but two states, the tax lien issuer collects the principal, interest, and any penalties; pays the lien certificate holder, and then collects the lien certificate if it’s not on file. The property owner must repay the investor the entire amount of the lien plus interest, which varies from one state to another—but is typically between 10% and 12%. If the investor paid a premium for the lien, this may be added to the amount that is repaid in some instances.
The repayment schedule usually lasts anywhere from six months to three years. In most cases, the owner is able to pay the lien in full. If the owner cannot pay the lien by the deadline, the investor has the authority to foreclose on the property just as the municipality would have, although this happens very rarely.
Investing Passively Through an Institutional Investor
Tax lien investing requires a significant amount of research and due diligence, so it may be worth it to consider investing passively through an institutional investor who is a member of the NTLA. Approximately 80% of tax lien certificates are sold to NTLA members.
To secure membership through NTLA, applicants must pass a background screening process to ensure compliance with NTLA Code of Ethics. Members must also pay member dues of varying amounts based on membership type. Members can participate in member-only webinars, earn a Certified Tax Lien Professional certification, and use the association's online directory to connect with other industry experts.
Disadvantages of Investing in Property Tax Liens
Although property tax liens can yield substantial rates of interest, investors need to do their homework before wading into this arena. Tax liens are generally inappropriate for novice investors or those who have little experience in or knowledge of real estate.
Investors are advised not to purchase liens for properties with environmental damage, such as one where a gas station dumped hazardous material.
Investors also need to become very familiar with the actual property upon which the lien has been placed. This can help them ensure that they will actually be able to collect the money from the owner. A dilapidated or abandoned property located in the heart of a slum neighborhood is probably not a good buy, regardless of the promised interest rate . The property owner may be completely unable or unwilling to pay the tax owed. Properties with any kind of environmental damage, such as from chemicals or hazardous materials that were deposited there, are also generally undesirable.
Not a Passive Investment
Lien owners need to know what their responsibilities are after they receive their certificates. Typically, they must notify the property owner in writing of their purchase within a stated amount of time. They are also usually required to send a second letter of notification to them near the end of the redemption period if payment has not been made in full by that time.
Tax Liens Can Expire
Tax liens are not everlasting instruments. Many have an expiration date after the end of the redemption period. Once the lien expires, the lienholder becomes unable to collect any unpaid balance. If the property goes into foreclosure, the lienholder may discover other liens on the property, which can make it impossible to obtain the title.
Many commercial institutions, such as banks and hedge funds, have become interested in property liens. As a result, they’ve been able to outbid the competition and drive down yields. This has made it harder for individual investors to find profitable liens, and some have given up as a result. However, there are also some funds now available that invest in liens, and this can be a good way for a novice investor to break into this arena with a lower degree of risk.
What Does It Mean If You Have a Tax Lien?
If you have a tax lien, it means that the government has made a legal claim against your property because you have neglected or failed to pay a tax debt. In the case of a property tax lien, you have either neglected or failed to pay the property taxes that you owe to the city or county where your property is located. When this happens, your city or county has the authority to place a lien on the property.
How Does a Tax Lien Sale Work?
Twenty-nine states, plus Washington, DC, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, allow tax lien sales. Every state uses a slightly different process to perform its tax lien sales.
Usually, after a property owner neglects to pay their taxes, there is a waiting period. Some states wait a few months while other states wait a few years before a tax collector intervenes. After this, the unpaid taxes are auctioned off at a tax lien sale. This can happen online or in a physical location. Sometimes it is the highest bidder that gets the lien against the property. Other auctions award the investor who accepts the lowest interest rate with the lien. Tax collectors use the money that they. earn at the auction to compensate for unpaid back taxes. Once the lien has been transferred to the investor, the homeowner owes them their unpaid property taxes, plus interest (or else they will face foreclosure on their property).
Where Can I Find Tax Liens for Sale?
You can call your county's tax collector directly to find out the process for buying tax liens. Some counties will also advertise the process on their website, as well as providing instructions for how to register as a bidder.
When counties list auctions on their websites, they will also provide information about the properties up for auction, when they go to auction, and the minimum bid. This list can help you identify if there are any properties you are interested in based on their location, property type, size, and minimum bid.
What Happens to a Mortgage in a Tax Lien Sale?
A lien stays with the property when it is sold. Prior to 2017, tax liens used to remain on the previous owner's credit report. However, all three credit bureaus implemented changes that no longer reported civil judgements starting in 2017. By April 2018, all tax liens were removed from all credit reports.
Property tax lien foreclosures occur when governments foreclose properties in their jurisdictions for the delinquent property taxes owed on them. Property tax liens are superior to other liens so their foreclosure eliminates other liens, including a mortgage lien. Homeowners with delinquent taxes typically also have outstanding mortgage debt. After purchasing a tax-foreclosed property, if you discover that there is a mortgage lien on it, it should be removed by the county in which you bought it. The county will discharge the lien based on the tax sale closing documents. In the event that this does not work, you can also contact the lien holder to have it removed.
In every state, after the sale of a tax lien, there is a redemption period (although the length of time varies depending on the state) where the owner of the property can try to redeem their property by paying their delinquent property taxes. However, even if the owner is paying their property taxes, if they fail to make their mortgage payments during this time, the mortgage holder can foreclose on the home.
Are IRS Tax Liens Public Record?
If a legal claim is made against your property in order to satisfy a tax debt, the IRS will file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. This is a public document and serves as an alert to other creditors that the IRS is asserting a secured claim against your assets. Credit reporting agencies may find the notice and include it in your credit report.
Property tax liens can be a viable investment alternative for experienced investors familiar with the real estate market. Those who know what they are doing and take the time to research the properties upon which they buy liens can generate substantial profits over time. However, the potential risks render this arena inappropriate for unsophisticated investors .
Without the proper research and understanding of the real estate market, an investor could easily end up with a property that doesn't get redeemed by the owner (in the form of them paying their taxes to you with interest) and that has no value. That low-value property will then ultimately end up as the property of the investor.
For those interested in investing in real estate, buying tax liens is just one option. Buying a home in foreclosure or buying a home at an auction can also be valuable investment opportunities. If you are still interested in property tax liens, it is recommended that you consult your real estate agent or financial adviser.
Internal Revenue Service. " Understanding a Federal Tax Lien ."
King County Treasurer. " 2022 Property Values ."
Harris County Appraisal District. " Harris County Appraisal District Sees Increasing Property Values ."
Washington Post. " Property Taxes On U.S. Homes Rose $328 Billion in 2021, Report Finds ."
National Tax Lien Association. " Facts About Delinquent Real Estate Taxes and Tax Lien Sales ."
CoreLogic. " National Average Property Tax Delinquency Rate Declines in 2021, CoreLogic Reports ."
National Tax Lien Association. " 9 Things to Know About Tax Lien Investing ."
National Tax Lien Association. " Common Questions About Tax Liens ."
National Tax Lien Association. " Member Benefits ."
Realtor.com. " What Happens When You Buy a Home in a Tax Sale ."
Experian. " Tax Liens Are No Longer a Part of Credit Reports ."
SF Gate. " What Happens if You Purchase a Home At a Tax Lien Sale & There Is a Mortgage Lien Owed? "
- Property Tax: Definition, What It's Used For, How It's Calculated 1 of 12
- How Property Taxes Are Calculated 2 of 12
- Your Property Tax Assessment: What Does It Mean? 3 of 12
- Tricks for Lowering Your Property Tax Bill 4 of 12
- How to Pay Your Property Tax Bill 5 of 12
- Property Tax Deduction: Definition, How It Works and How to Claim 6 of 12
- Ad Valorem Tax: Definition and How It's Determined 7 of 12
- What Is a Mill Rate, and How Are Property Taxes Calculated? 8 of 12
- Assessed Value: Definition, How It's Calculated, and Example 9 of 12
- Special Assessment Tax Definition, Who Pays, Example 10 of 12
- Taking Advantage of Property Tax Abatement Programs 11 of 12
- Investing in Property Tax Liens 12 of 12
Buying a Home
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Property Tax Liens Offered for Assignment
Investors, interest rates & more.
The Active Certificate Report lists Certificates of Purchase (tax liens) that are available from the state by assignment (shown as Investor ID 1). Included in this report are other investor owned liens (shown as Investor ID other than 1). The interest rate of 16% for state liens becomes the investor’s interest rate at the time of assignment. Any investor liens that are re-assigned to another investor are assigned at the original investor rate.
Reports & Parcels
The Active Certificate Report includes a column listing the amount of the original assessed taxes. Our new Treasurer Parcel Search has the current dollar amount owed and current investor information.
- For availability of tax liens, go to the Active Certificate List (PDF) .
- For tax amounts due and assessment information, go to the Parcel and Tax Search .
Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office
John m. allen, treasurer.
Maricopa County Treasurer's Office
- Alerts & Announcements
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- Regarding Tax Liens
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Tax Lien Tutorial
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- Meet Your Treasurer
- Treasurers - 1871 to Present
Pre-sale requirements, proxy bid procedure, bid interest, redemption of liens.
- Re-assignment Purchasing
Purchasing Delinquent Taxes for Subsequent Years
- Transfer of Certificates of Purchase
Monthly Activity Statement and Outstanding Portfolio Report
The Tax Lien Sale provides for the payment of delinquent property taxes by an investor. The tax on the property is auctioned in open competitive bidding based on the least percent of interest to be received by the investor.
Property taxes that are delinquent at the end of December are added to any previously uncollected taxes on a parcel for the Tax Lien Sale. The sale takes place online in early February of each year. Please read the disclaimer before deciding to bid, and see our lien FAQ page and lien history page.
Parcels whose taxes are subject to sale will be advertised, in January, in a Maricopa County newspaper of general circulation.
- in the Arizona Business Gazette, Copies of the newspaper are usually available for purchase at the Treasurer's Office.
- posted on the Tax Sale website https://maricopa.arizonataxsale.com
- in the Treasurer's Office (on the lobby computers) at 301 W. Jefferson, Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85003.
- a CD called the “Tax Sale Advertising List” for $25.00 can be purchased: ResearchMaterial.pdf
The investor is responsible for all research on the parcels available for auction. County maps for research may be found by visiting the Maricopa County Assessor's website. Read our Recommendations to all bidders.
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To be eligible to bid, investors must provide the Treasurer's Office with a completed:
- CP Bidder application
- AND IRS Form W-9 , IRS Form W-8BEN (for Foreign Individuals), or IRS Form W-8BEN-E (for Foreign Entities).
Please mail completed forms to Maricopa County Treasurer, 301 W Jefferson St #140, Phoenix, AZ 85003, or fax to (602) 506-1102.
A number will be assigned to each bidder for use when purchasing tax liens through the Treasurer’s office and the online Tax Lien Sale.
Registration is processed through the Treasurer’s Office, except during the time the Tax Sale website is available to the public (from mid-January through mid-February). Then, during the Tax Sale, registration will be processed through https://maricopa.arizonataxsale.com .
Proxy bidding is a form of competitive sale in which bidders enter the minimum interest rate that they are willing to accept for each certificate. The auction system acts as an electronic agent, submitting bids on behalf of each bidder. The result of the proxy system is that the electronic agent keeps lowering the bid to submit by one percent increments until you are either the only bidder left, (in which case you get the certificate at one percent lower than the previous bid) or until you reach the floor you have set.
- Zero percent bids will not be treated as proxy bids. They will be awarded at zero.
- If you are the only bidder on a given certificate and your minimum rate is greater than zero percent, the electronic agent will submit a bid of 16% on your behalf.
- In the case of a tie at the winning bid rate, the system awards to one of the tie bidders through a random selection process using a random number generator.
- In no case will a bidder be awarded a certificate at a rate lower than his specified minimum acceptable rate.
- Certificates that receive no bids will be "struck to the state" at 16%.
The successful bidder will pay the entire amount of taxes, interest, and fees via ACH debit by the end of the next business day. Fees include a non-refundable/non-interest earning Tax Payer Information Fee of $5.00/10.00 as per ARS 42-18122B. If payment has not been made, the parcel(s) will be struck to the State of Arizona.
Each investor will receive an Outstanding Portfolio Report identifying each parcel for which the investor had acquired a tax lien.
When making an inquiry on a property, use the parcel number located in the left column of the Portfolio.
Bids are for the percent of interest income to bidder.
The maximum bid is 16% simple interest per annum, prorated monthly. The lowest acceptable bid is 0% per annum.
The successful (lowest) bid will determine the rate of interest to be paid on the Tax Lien, representing the amount of taxes, interest, fees and charges then due. Also read Proxy bidding in this Tax Lien Tutorial
If the owner and/or agent redeems the property tax lien, the investor receives a payment of what they paid for the lien, less the processing fee, plus the prorated monthly rate of interest that was awarded at the sale.
The lien bears interest at the bid rate from the first day of the month following the purchase of the tax lien.
When a property owner fails to redeem the CP prior to the expiration of three years from the date the parcel was first offered at sale, the investor may apply for a court ordered deed to the property (judicial foreclosure).
As of December 31, 2003, the Treasurer's Office does not issue Treasurer's deeds on buyer purchased CPs. All buyer foreclosures are judicial.
Re-Assignment Purchasing aka Transfer of Ownership of a CP
If not redeemed, a CP may be transferred by affidavit to another person who is a registered CP buyer with the Maricopa County Treasurer's office.
We do have a pre-made form for the reassignment of a Certificate of Purchase, or the current lien holder may create one of their own. The affidavit should include the:
There is a $10.00 transfer fee for each CP#. The out of office negotiations are agreements solely between the current and new lien holders. The Treasurer's Office simply processes the reassignments.
It usually takes a few days to complete the reassignment process, you are welcome to mail or walk in your reassignment request. We will notify you by email when it is complete.
If the lien is redeemed during the transition period, the Treasurer pays the redeemed taxes to the last CP holder on record. The $10 fee would be refunded to whichever lien holder paid the fee.
The Treasurer's Office must be notified of the transfer with an original affidavit for it to be valid.
Any party holding a Certificate of Purchase (CP) on a delinquent tax lien for a prior tax year may purchase the delinquent tax for a subsequent year.
A subsequent year’s tax (sub-tax) can be added to an existing CP beginning on June 1 and ending on January 14 . Subsequent year liens not sub-taxed will go to the next tax lien auction in February. The interest earned on a sub-tax is the same as that of the original CP.
The person wishing to sub-tax is responsible for determining the amount due for the fixed amounts of taxes and fees, and the interest accrued based upon the date of the sub-tax purchase. Interest is on the total tax amount and accrues on the first day of each subsequent month. The fee for each sub-tax is $5.00.
There are two ways to sub-tax:
- In the Treasurer’s office using computer terminals located in our lobby. Instructions and assistance are available.
- Send a list of desired purchases and payment to: Maricopa County Treasurer Attention: Tax Lien Department 301 W. Jefferson Street, Suite 140 Phoenix, AZ 85003-2199
Please use the format below when submitting a purchase request.
Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office recommends using EXCEL or one of the other spreadsheet programs when using OPTION 2. This will increase the accuracy and timeliness of processing your request.
The amount due is on our website at: http://treasurer.maricopa.gov . To retrieve the “Tax Summary” page for a parcel, you can click here and enter a "Parcel #" , or you can go to our Homepage and enter a "Parcel #" in the "Taxpayer" panel. From June through August, if there is a dollar amount printed in red in the upper right column, there is a delinquency eligible for sub-taxing. After August, the new tax year amounts are added to our website. You will now need to look for the "unpaid tax" line for the prior tax year to determine the amount to sub-tax. A redemption statement is another source used to determine sub-tax purchase amounts. That amount, plus the $5.00 fee, is the total amount necessary to sub-tax. Personal and business checks are accepted.
An Activity Statement will be created for each CP buyer, listing their redemptions, purchases, surrenders, expirations, and extinguishments. Only those accounts with activity in the last month will have a report available on the Tax Lien Web site. Outstanding Portfolio Reports will also be available for active buyers The Tax Lien Web is updated the first week of each month. These statements can be viewed on the Maricopa County Treasurer's Tax Lien Web site. To have access to this information you must first register.
Seniors needing additional property tax relief and Arizonans not required to file individual income taxes may be able to take advantage of state tax credits
Individual income tax filing season in the state provides potential benefits for Arizonans whose income level is below minimum threshold limits and not required to file an individual income tax return or are seniors who own a residence.
Both may still be eligible for state tax benefits by submitting two forms available through the Arizona Department of Revenue - Form 140ET Credit for Increased Excise Taxes or Form 140PTC Property Tax Refund Claim.
- Form 140PTC is used by qualified individuals to claim a refundable income tax credit for taxes paid on property located in Arizona that is either owned by or rented by the taxpayer. Form 140PTC provides a tax credit of up to $502. To claim a property tax credit, you must file your claim or extension request by April 15, 2020. You cannot claim this credit on an amended return if you file it after the due date.
- Form 140ET is used by individuals not required to file an Arizona individual income tax return but qualify to claim the refundable excise tax credit. The maximum credit available for the increased excise tax (Form 140ET) is $100 per household. An excise tax is a tax levied on certain goods by the state or federal government such as fuel, cigarettes, cellphones and alcoholic beverages.
Individuals not filing an income tax return and claiming both credits need only to complete Form 140PTC. However, individuals not submitting a tax return and not claiming the property tax credit must complete Form 140ET to claim the credit for increased excise taxes.
To determine eligibility for either Form 140PTC or Form 140ET, see form instructions at www.azdor.gov/Forms/Individual .
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The Maricopa County Treasurer has made every effort to ensure that the information contained on this Web site is accurate and current. However, the Treasurer’s Office does not guarantee that each and every item of information is completely accurate. Therefore, the user is advised to make his or her own independent analysis and investigation, rather than reliance on this information. The Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office hereby disclaims liability for any damages, direct or indirect, arising from use of or reliance upon this information.
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CP Expirations Legal Changes
There has been a change in CP Liens that is applicable to lienholders. Beginning September, 2019, SB1236 will include a provision that modifies the language in §A.R.S. 42-18127 Section A.
The original certificate of purchase, in addition to all subsequent taxes (sub taxes) will expire if an action to foreclose has not commenced within ten years after the last day of the month in which the original certificate was acquired.
Pursuant to this legislation, tax liens eligible for expiration will include the original certificate and all related sub taxes in the expiration process. Those liens with deadlines that are already in effect will not be affected however it will affect all future sub taxing liens so that the deadline will expire within a ten year period after the last day of the month that it was acquired and time limits cannot be extended to the original purchase.
You should consult your attorney for further advice.
Elderly Assistance Program
We have been receiving many phone calls from seniors expressing shock and dismay at the significant increase in their property tax bills. It is tragic. Treasurer Royce T. Flora has been trying for five years to get the legislature to reclassify low-income seniors’ homes in order to lower their ever-increasing property taxes. Several different players have defeated these efforts each year, which has led to a doubling of many folks’ property taxes this year. Treasurer Flora is not giving up. Please click on this LINK to read a letter to legislators explaining the Treasurer’s disappointment in their failure to help our needy seniors. With the enthusiastic help of Representatives Bob Thorpe (R-Flagstaff) and Anthony Kern (R-Phoenix), Treasurer Flora will again champion the effort to get a bill passed by legislators and signed by the governor in 2020.
Beware of Alternate Tax Payment Websites!
Please be aware of other property tax payment websites which could mislead you to believe they are the Maricopa County Treasurer’s website. Although you can make payments through them, they are not our official agent and will charge you processing fees. We have no control over payments made through them.
County Treasurer Forced To File Bar Complaint Against Appointed County Attorney Adel
Phoenix, AZ - The elected Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora is considering a lawsuit against the Board of Supervisors for interfering with his Constitutional duty to run his Office. He has asked for outside counsel so he can have the opportunity to speak candidly with competent council on the issues, and as he recognizes the clear conflict interest with the County Attorney. The County Attorney is counsel to the Board and as such Treasurer Flora cannot engage in direct conversation with the County Attorney and violate attorney/client privilege. The County Attorney is the legal attorney for the County Treasurer normally, but because the County Attorney is legal counsel to the BOS, she cannot represent Treasurer Flora.
The Office of Treasurer is not subordinate to a county governing Board of Supervisors. The Office of Treasurer is a statutory/constitutional office having independent authority under state law and state constitution.
The use of the term "Office" implies inherent powers and independent sovereignty, NOT another "department" of county government.
The internal operation of an Office of Treasurer is the sole responsibility of the elected Treasurer.
Aware of the conflict, Treasurer Flora initially sent a request for outside counsel to the county attorney assigned to the Treasurer’s office. Then he sent his request directly to County Attorney Allister Adel. He didn’t receive a response from Ms. Adel. However, he did eventually receive a response from Tom Liddy, Civil Division Chief of the County Attorney’s Office. “Clearly Ms. Adel does not feel an elected officer to elected officer response is warranted. This also adds to the inherent conflict in her office,” Mr. Flora stated. He adds, “The conflict is further exacerbated by the fact that Ms. Adel was appointed by the Board, so she likely has allegiance to the Board and is conflicted as a result.”
Maricopa County Treasurer Willing to Loan $1 Billion to State for Coronavirus Crisis
Phoenix, AZ (July 21, 2020) - Maricopa County Treasurer, Royce T. Flora announced today that his office is willing to loan the State of Arizona $1 billion dollars to fight the economic damage from the Coronavirus outbreak in Arizona.
"The State of Arizona is a COVID-19 hotspot. We are experiencing significant damage to local businesses. Arizona’s Health Care industry needs additional resources for testing and personal protective equipment and Maricopa County is in a position to help the State financially to combat this virus," said Royce T. Flora, Maricopa County Treasurer. "We can loan one billion dollars to the State from our portfolio to fight COVID-19 and the loan will have little effect on County taxpayers," he added.
The funds would come from Maricopa County’s investment portfolio which as of last month, had an annual high balance of $6.7 billion. The Maricopa County Treasurer's Office invests funds in short-term investment opportunities to generate revenue that is dispersed back into our economy. With interest rates near zero, this money is in our accounts and needs to be put into production.
To arrange an interview with Maricopa County Treasurer, Royce Flora, contact us at (602) 506-8511
Tax Deadline Update
I’m extremely disappointed to report despite all our efforts to request to extend the delinquency date to pay 2019 property taxes, no action has taken place. Senate President Karen Fann expressed support at first, and although many legislators have enthusiastically voiced their support, there doesn’t appear to be any progress. There has been no response from House Speaker Rusty Bowers or from Governor Doug Ducey.
I will continue to fight to get relief for homeowners including an extension and/or waiver. However, if the Legislature and the Governor do not extend the deadline and if you are unable to pay the balance of 2019 property taxes by May 1st at 5:00pm, here is a suggestion for you to make your own one-month extension: If you pay late, you will incur an interest penalty. We suggest you pay on the last business day of the month, because whether you pay May 2nd or May 29th, the interest amount is the same.
Regrettably, there is no other relief County Treasurers can provide for homeowners; I am restricted by law. Only the Legislature can change the law and that seems unlikely.
Additionally, after consultation with the County Attorney’s Office, I have determined there is a legal way to provide some relief to some taxpayers. ARS 42-18056 G gives County Treasurers the authority to “enter into a payment plan agreement” with business personal property taxpayers who become delinquent on their taxes of more than $1000. Those qualifying businesses will receive a letter explaining what action to take.
I wish you all well and please stay safe.
With great respect, Royce T. Flora Maricopa County Treasurer
Senate President Karen Fann 602-926-5874 Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers 602-926-3128 Governor Doug Ducey 602-542-4331 Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office 602-506-8511
Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora Continues His Commitment to Extend Property Tax Payment Deadline
Treasurer Royce Flora continues his commitment and push for the Legislature to extend the delinquent date to pay 2019 property taxes and to waive all penalties and interest. Treasurer Flora has sent formal requests to the Legislature and the Governor to call a Special Session to address the extension and the waiver. Unfortunately, as of this date, the Legislature still has not acted and the Governor has yet to respond.
Many legislators, including Senate President Karen Fann, have voiced support to get this done. But still no real action; more need to step up and do it.
“This is really a simple fix that will help relieve some financial stress that so many of our citizens are feeling at this time of crisis, trying to provide for their families and put food on the table or pay taxes,” Treasurer Flora says. “There is still time for the Legislature to do this, but time is running out.”
As stated in the April 6th letter to the Governor, the “extension will in no way negatively impact any of the scheduled disbursements to school districts, fire districts, or any special districts. All 15 County Treasurers (have joined Treasurer Royce Flora and) agree that the disbursements will proceed as planned. But all 15 also agree that this extension will give (critically needed) relief to many homeowners who are being negatively impacted by this pandemic.”
As a citizen/taxpayer you can also have influence in this issue. Please contact your legislator and/or the Governor and voice your opinion. Make your voice heard.
Senate President Karen Fann 602-926-5874 Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers 602-926-3128 Governor Doug Ducey 602-542-4331
Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora Asks the Governor to Extend Property Tax Payment Deadline
April 6, 2020
Dear Honorable Governor Doug Ducey,
As Maricopa County Treasurer I respectfully and urgently request that you, as Governor of the great State of Arizona, help taxpayers during these difficult times by calling a Special Session of the State Legislature in order to address tax issues, including extending the deadline to pay the second half of 2019 property taxes to at least June 1, 2020.
We have asked the Legislature to take action ; while many have expressed interest, the response has been disappointingly slow. The push back has been from paid lobbyists with agendas who care more about revenue than about citizens. The recent Executive Order has shut down many businesses causing lost wages and lost jobs. It would appear the citizens of Arizona are nothing more than a revenue source for government. Arizona citizens are dying while government puts revenue above people. Interestingly, government workers are paid regardless, even though many sit idly at home adding no value for taxpayers.
Why haven’t the experts at the Offices who deal directly with these issues been consulted? We have the facts. This is a time-sensitive issue and must be addressed immediately. This 30-day extension will in no way negatively impact any of the scheduled disbursements to school districts, fire districts, or any special districts. All 15 County Treasurers agree that the disbursements will proceed as planned. But all 15 also agree that this extension will give relief to many homeowners who are being negatively impacted by this pandemic.
In Maricopa County, the average amount of interest and penalties paid because of delinquencies during May is about $560,000. (That’s approximately the cost of mailing a tax notice to all homeowners with mortgages in our county as required by Sen. Vince Leach’s SB1113.) Even if you double that to $1,120,000, for the entire month, that is still a small loss considering the Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office has over $300 Million flowing through its coffers each week.*corrected The loss is “relatively insignificant” and is more than made up in our interest earnings projected to exceed $100 Million for FY2020.
Other states have taken similar action ( https://napta.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-NAPTA-.pdf ). Arizona needs to provide relief to taxpayers. We hope and pray for a quick recovery and to get back to normal; however, we do not know that timeline. Even if that happens, much damage has already occurred and many will continue to struggle; and some families and businesses may not ever fully recover from the economic damage.
Royce T. Flora Maricopa County Treasurer
Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora Asks Legislature to Extend Property Tax Payment Deadline
Phoenix, AZ (March 26, 2020) - Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora today asked the Arizona Legislature to extend the deadline for property owners to pay the second half of 2019 property taxes to June 1st. Taxes on all commercial and residential properties are currently due and are considered past due May 1st.
"With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact our citizens, many of whom have lost their job, the last thing people need to worry about right now is how to pay their property taxes," said Treasurer Royce Flora. "Some people are struggling with paying rent, utilities, and food for their family so we are asking the legislature to give us the authority to extend the deadline to pay property taxes to help families," he added.
The Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office is also asking the Legislature to give all County Treasurers throughout the state the authority to waive all penalties and interest associated with any delinquent property tax.
"We hope the State Legislature will make a quick decision in favor of taxpayers at a time when they need Government help the most," said Treasurer Flora.
October 24, 2019
Press release, county treasurer royce flora responds to unwarranted attack.
The political attack made by Vince Leach, from Pinal County, on the Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office is neither factual nor warranted. The Maricopa County Treasurer has complied with the new law to mail out 2019 Property Tax notices to property owners with a mortgage. As required by SB1033, “ARS § 42-18054: (a) tax statement sent to the mortgagor shall be a written document and may be in any form established by the county treasurer.” This was done.
In an effort to mitigate the costs of this unfunded mandate, Treasurer Royce Flora designed a postcard-size notice like the ones discontinued four years ago because it duplicated information already provided to the taxpayer from both the Assessor and the mortgage companies. Mr. Leach’s unfunded mandate in the SB1033 law cost Maricopa County taxpayers an additional $230,000.00 for printing and mailing, alone. That is not “childish” money.
Mr. Leach’s complaints appear to be a form of retaliation against Treasurer Flora and this office. Mr. Leach did not support Treasurer Flora’s efforts to protect low-income seniors from ever increasing property taxes, and helped lead the effort to kill the bill putting seniors at risk of losing their homes. Mr. Leach was told about the cost before the bill passed and his statement to the Treasurer’s PIO was “have fun.” Maybe that is why people in his county have higher taxes than we do in Maricopa County.
The Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office is the most transparent government entity in the state of Arizona. All our statements, processes, and taxpayer information is on our website, in addition to the several mailings and email blasts throughout the year. Our website is easily accessed and user-friendly. In fact, over 300,000 property owners have accessed our website for their specific property tax information, in addition to general information that it provides.
Treasurer Flora will continue to look for ways to lower costs to taxpayers and, in particular, will work with like-minded elected officials to relieve the tax burden on low income seniors. Mr. Leach clearly is not one of them.
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Madison County Tax Lien Purchase Policy
Tax lien purchases can be made in person or by mail.
If two tax payments for lien purchases arrive the same day in the mail; the one with the earliest postage date will be chosen. If postmarked the same day, we will put several numbers in a cup and have a random employee draw. The highest number chosen will get to purchase the tax lien certificate.
Customers at the counter will be first come first serve for tax lien purchases. If two customers arrive at the same time we will follow the same process as payments received via mail.
What is a tax lien assignment? ... An assignment is the transfer of a legal interest. In its most basic form, one party (the Assignor) agrees to sell and/or
HEREBY ASSIGN ALL OF THE RIGHT, TITLE AND INTEREST OF TAX LIEN. SALE CERTIFICATE OF PURCHASE NUMBER. WITH. A SCHEDULE/ACCOUNT NUMBER OF
DISCLAIMER: The purchase of a tax lien on unpaid taxes attaches a lien against the property at the specified annual rate of interest until redeemed
Currently, 29 states plus Washington, D.C. allow for the transfer or assignment of delinquent real estate tax liens to the private sector
Investors can purchase property tax liens from a municipality, allowing them as the new lien owner to collect payments with interest from the property owner. In
Make 2 copies of tax lien sale certificate for the oldest tax year that the assignment is being taken on. Assignments will be processed using the oldest year
Investors, Interest Rates & More. The Active Certificate Report lists Certificates of Purchase (tax liens) that are available from the state by assignment
Re-assignment Purchasing; Purchasing Delinquent Taxes for Subsequent Years; Transfer of Certificates of Purchase; Monthly Activity Statement and Outstanding
This is not an auction of the property. Anaconda-Deer Lodge County places a lien on all properties not purchased that have entered into a delinquent status.
Please contact the County Treasurer for information regarding the purchase of County tax liens. Madison County Tax Lien Purchase Policy. Tax lien purchases can