Harford Tax Sale Yields $988,406 in Back Taxes and Penalties

Harford County held its annual tax sale this week, selling 459 properties generating $988,406 in revenue covering back taxes and penalties owed by the property owners. An article in the Baltimore Sun describes the tax sale process.

Monday’s winning bidders pay off county taxes and any penalties owed and then have a lien against the property until the owner either pays them back, plus redemption interest at a rate set by the county, or the lien holder forecloses and, subject to court approval, takes ownership of the property.

The tax sale lien certificates are good for two years. The redemption rate the purchaser can charge the property owner is 12 percent per annum, and that interest begins to accrue the day the tax certificate is issued.

Most tax liens are purchased by individuals or groups as investments in order to receive the redemption interest, rather than to actually get ownership of the properties involved.

In the article County Treasurer Robert Sandlass emphasized the county’s process to work with property owners to avoid foreclosure.

…his office wants to work with property owners to make sure their parcels do not end up in the tax sale in the first place and aren’t later lost to foreclosure because the owners can’t pay off the lien certificate.

“These are the properties that have been delinquent in their taxes, many for several years, not just one,” Sandlass said. “This isn’t an ideal situation or anything like that, so, really, what we want to do is work with the account holders so it doesn’t come to this point.”

He said individuals have up to four months to get their properties back following the sale before they would have to face a possible court action by the lien purchaser.