So, you’re are (or are going to be) behind on your taxes.
But what happens when you find yourself behind on paying your property taxes in Georgia?
This post will deep dive into everything you need to know about Georgia property tax liens.
So keep reading.
What Are Georgia Tax Liens?
In Georgia, the courts have a legal claim against your property, called a tax lien, when you have unpaid property taxes.
Until your property taxes have been paid in full, the tax lien prevents you from selling or refinancing the property. Property tax liens are used on any type of property, whether it’s land, your house, or commercial property.
When the lien is issued, the county or town that is owed property taxes creates a tax-lien certificate that includes the amount of the taxes owed, plus interest and penalties.
Once the lien has been issued, the lien is submitted to the sheriff’s department and they are instructed to auction off the tax lien to the highest bidder.
When you pay your property taxes in full, the tax lien is removed from the property, allowing you to sell the house on your own again.
You are allowed to live in the property while there is a lien on it.
In fact, you still own the property even if it’s gone to auction. The title is still in your name.
If you don’t pay the tax lien off within 12 months in Georgia, then the lienholder has the right to foreclose on the property and receive title and you lose ownership of the property.
What Happens When Property Taxes are Delinquent?
Let’s say you owe $1,500 in back taxes on your house in Georgia. That past-due amount (the $1,500) becomes the lien on your home.
So, the county you live in will auction off your house to an investor for the amount owed. The investor will pay the $1,500 plus all of the late fees and interest and take ownership of your property.
In this instance, say Fulton County sends you how much property taxes that you owe on your property in October (your billing date) and the due date for those property taxes being paid is January 1st.
On January 1st, (your due date) those the county automatically creates a property tax lien on your property. When you pay off those taxes, the lien automatically dissolves.
This means that if you pay your property taxes on January 2nd, the tax lien on your property is eliminated.
The same holds true if you are months, or years, behind on your property taxes. As soon as you pay off the property taxes, late fees, and interest, your tax liens are deleted.
But if you don’t pay those taxes off?
After 1-2 months, the sheriff comes knocking (literally) and they will hold a tax sale on your property.
After 12 months in Georgia, the lienholder will foreclose on you and take ownership of the property.
How to Save a Home if Property Taxes are Delinquent
You may think that the ONLY option is to pay off your past-due taxes.
Fortunately, that’s not the case here.
Here are some ways to save your home from being auctioned off.
[These only work BEFORE your house is auctioned.]
Object to the Tax Assessments
Your local county does a tax assessment on your property.
This determines how much they are going to make you pay every year to the county.
And, it just so happens that this is what you’re behind on taxes for.
You can have them re-assess your property taxes.
This can potentially lower your tax bills.
There are two grounds on which you can contest the tax assessment.
- The taxpayer can assert that the assessment exceeds the property’s taxable value, meaning its value has been assessed incorrectly.
- The taxpayer can argue that the property has been disproportionately assessed, meaning that the assessment is higher than assessments of comparable properties in the area.
Once the assessment has been reduced, the homeowner might have an easier time paying off the property tax debt.
This does not allow you to get paid back on taxes or reduce how much you owe in back taxes.
This only allows you to reduce how much you owe each year going forward, which can potentially allow you to save up enough money to pay down the debts you have.
Seek Property Tax Abatement
What the heck does this legal jargon mean to you?
A tax abatement is a reduction, or elimination, in taxes from your local municipality.
To file for a tax abatement and receive a reduction or elimination in property taxes, fill out the form for the corresponding county that you reside in.
- Gwinnett County Tax Abatement
- Fulton County Tax Abatement
- Dekalb County Tax Abatement
- Cobb County Tax Abatement
With these programs, you are able to receive several types of tax reductions, including:
- Homestead Tax Exemptions – Up to $10,000
- State Tax Exemption – Up to $2,000
- Georgia Senior Tax Exemption – Up to $4,000
- Georgia Disability Tax Exemption – Up to $22,000
- Georiga Disabled Veteran Tax Exemption – Up to 100% of Your Taxes
As you can see, your tax liabilities can be reduced based on your age, income level, disability, or personal status.
Some states will even consider deferring your property taxes if you can prove financial hardship.
The key is to be proactive and reach out to your county during your financial hardship to increase your odds that you will be given some slack. It’s more difficult to receive help AFTER your taxes are delinquent.
But there is a caveat.
After you’re delinquent, your county may decide to waive penalties and interest and give you additional time to pay off the back taxes.
Just remember that you are not entitled to this leniency. Getting mad at them for denying you will not help your case. Be sure to be as nice, helpful, and proactive as possible. This will help you stand out and increase your odds of getting help.
Sell Your House Fast Before It Goes To The Tax Auction
So, you just received a notice from your local county that your house has a tax lien and is going to go to the tax auction.
“But I don’t have time or money to…”
- Clean out the house
- Update the house
- Make repairs
- Hire and manage contractors
- Hire a real estate agent
- Wait for someone to buy the house
You’re in luck.
If you work with a cash investor in Atlanta, you can sell your house fast before your property hits the courthouse steps.
Working with a cash home buyer in Atlanta allows you to sell your house in as little as 7 days (yes, really). It allows you to skip repairs and sell the house in as-is condition.
Selling your house to an investor allows you to sell your house before you lose your property, put cash in your pocket, and have a fresh start.
Whether you live in it, or you own an abandoned house, we want to buy it.
How To Get Your House Back After A Tax Sale
Did you know that you can actually get your house back AFTER it’s been sold at a tax auction?
Getting your house back after a tax sales is called “Redeeming” your home.
To redeem your home, you have 12 months after the tax sale to reimburse the new owner the amount that they paid for the home. This 12 month period is considered the redemption period.
So, let’s assume that your house has gone to the tax auction and someone bought the tax lien and that you want to purchase your house back.
Your house sold at the tax auction for $10,000. This $10,000 is how much you owed in back taxes, NOT including late fees and interest, at that time.
When someone purchases the tax lien on your property, they are paying off all of your back taxes and making you current on your property taxes.
In return, they get the property tax lien, which gives them the ability to foreclose on you and take the title in 12 months in Georgia.
You have a 12 month period to save up the money and pay the lienholder the money to redeem the property.
This money includes:
- The back tax amount
- The 20% annual interest
- Late fees
The $10,000 that you owed the county could turn into $12,000 – $18,000 that you owe the investor when you redeem your rights.
The lienholder doesn’t OWN the property yet. They own the lien on your property. This is why there is a 12 month redemption period so that you can purchase back the lien.
As the investor, to obtain ownership of the property, the lien holder has to terminate your Georgia Right of Redemption for the property.
To obtain ownership of the home, the lien purchaser must wait for 12 months after the sale. Then, they are able to foreclose your right of redemption by giving you a written notice that the right to redeem will expire on a certain date.
They may even have to get a real estate attorney in Atlanta involved to receive the title, which can draw out the time it takes for the title to transfer to them.
After this date, you forfeit your right of redemption and the property title will transfer into the lienholder’s name.
Selling Your House To Avoid A Tax Auction In Georgia
You are behind on taxes.
You don’t want to lose your home.
You can sell your home to an Atlanta house buyer and get extra money to start over.
This allows you to pay off your property taxes, get extra cash, and walk away from potential foreclosure with a fresh start.
Sell your land or your house fast before you lose it to a tax auction.
How Long Can Property Taxes Go Unpaid In Georiga?
As soon as you miss the due date to pay your property taxes in Georgia, the county will automatically post a public notice that you are tax delinquent. The county will then issue you a written notice of property tax delinquency. After that notice has been issued, the sheriff’s department is commanded to sell the property at auction to the highest bidder. The process can take as little as two months.
The sheriff’s department has no choice in the matter of the auction. It’s the law that they auction off your home.
Properties that are going to the Fulton County Tax Auction are going to be posted in the Daily Report. They can also be listed on your local sheriff’s website.
To avoid being one of the next foreclosure homes in Atlanta, you can work with a cash home investor to sell your house before it goes to auction.
Georgia Tax Lien Laws
Georgia Tax Lien Laws are such that your obligation to pay your property taxes is back by the real estate itself. If your property taxes are not paid in full by January 1st, then the county tax commissioner automatically gains a lien on your property. This lien leads to a tax sale auction in Georiga unless you pay the back taxes in full, which dissolves the tax lien.
Can Someone Take Your Property By Paying The Taxes?
Yes. When your house goes to the sheriff’s tax auction, an investor can pay your taxes off and receive the right to obtain the title of your property. Depending on your state, you have 1-3 years to pay back the investor. After this time period, you forfeit your rights to the property and the title transfers to them.
What Happens If You Can’t Pay Your Property Taxes
If you can’t pay your property taxes, your house may go into foreclosure or to a tax auction. If you don’t pay your property taxes, a tax lien is automatically issued on your property. The local sheriff sells your tax lien to the highest bidder at a tax lien auction. If you don’t pay back your taxes to the lienholder, they can foreclose on you and take your property.
If you want a fair, cash offer on your house so that you don’t lose your house to a tax auction, fill out the form below. We can buy your house in as little as 7 days and help you avoid being evicted from your home.
We save families from tax delinquencies in Roswell, Decatur, Marietta, Norcross, Smyrna, East Point, College Park, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Stone Mountain, and Lithonia. (We buy land and houses in Chattanooga too!)