On June 8, McClain County Treasurer Teresa Jones will stand up to complete what is likely her least favorite task as treasurer.
It falls to Jones every year to serve as auctioneer, selling real estate on which four years of unpaid taxes and penalties have accrued.
Before the 9 a.m. start of the auction, the owners have an opportunity to pay what’s owed themselves.
That is the best case scenario, in Jones’ view.
Or the owners can take advantage of a law passed by the Oklahoma Legislature to pay the taxes for the most delinquent year.
For this year’s sale, that would mean paying taxes, interest and penalty for 2016.
It effectively saves the property from being auctioned this year, but in effect creates more work for the treasurer’s office by giving the property owner a revolving door option for delaying tax payments.
The law is disliked by county treasurers across the state, Jones said.
Jones tells would-be bidders the sale of property for back taxes is strictly a buyer beware auction.
All sales are cash.
She strongly advises anyone who is interested in a property to do their research before bidding.
First, check the courthouse records to find if there are any liens on the property.
A mortgage company loses its lien if the property sells for back taxes. That’s because the mortgage company is notified by certified mail before the sale.
Most often to protect its investment, the mortgage company will pay the unpaid taxes to continue their lien.
State and federal liens remain on the property, even with a new owner.
Some years, Jones may have no properties to auction. The average she has to sell each year is five or six.
Bids for each property start at the outstanding tax balance.
To sell, each parcel must have a bid the lesser of two-thirds of the assessed fiscal year 2019-20 valuation or the total amount of taxes, interest and costs.
Winning bidders receive a treasurer’s deed, but the property isn’t truly theirs just yet.
The owner has a year to take the buyer to court in an attempt to regain the sold property.
If there are no bidders for a property, the outstanding taxes are zeroed out and it goes to the county.
It can then be sold at a commissioners sale.
A list of properties up for resale is in a legal notice in this week’s Purcell Register. The notice will also be published in the paper’s May 28 and June 4 issues.