Delinquent Property Tax and Adjudicated Tax Sales Services
The Louisiana Municipal Association, through its wholly owned subsidiary, LaMATS, provides a helpful service to municipalities with collecting delinquent property taxes, conducting tax sales, and also preparing adjudicated properties for auction. This program remains at “no cost” to the municipality.
Municipalities are responsible for the collection of municipal property taxes, which provide services to the community. It is an issue of fairness that all property owners pay these taxes, and the State of Louisiana has mandated that there is only one procedure to collect delinquent taxes -- through the tax sale process. Unfortunately, the process is costly, complex and ever changing due to the legislative process and court case interpretation. Simply put, it is a procedure that is nearly impossible to correctly follow and may ultimately mean lawsuits, which, in turn, could result in additional costs to your municipality.
The LaMATS service is designed to assist local officials increase revenues and reduce future delinquent taxes. However, another element to it is one that helps protect property owners and everyone who has a legal interest in the delinquent property by ensuring proper notice is provided to every party. This can be the greatest challenge in the entire tax sale (and adjudicated property disposition) process, but one that is completely necessary to comply with all state statues. While most delinquent property taxes appear to be avoidable, there are situations where taxes of a recently deceased or seriously ill property owner are unknowingly unpaid and could be satisfied when all interested parties are made aware. While this does not always guarantee delinquent taxes are paid, it’s a safeguard the pro-property rights laws of this sate provide for. Perhaps this is a good place to remind us all that certain responsibilities come with property ownership – paying taxes promptly each year, and maintaining the property in accordance with local code ordinances and state law. Municipal officials bear the responsibility to ensure compliance of both for budgetary reasons, and for health, safety and crime issues that most always develop when a property is not maintain to the minimum standards.
A program that is at “no cost” to our municipalities does not mean that monies are not expended to pursue delinquent taxes, or sell properties that have become blighted and/or abandoned. These necessary costs are carried by LaMATS for the municipality until the taxes are satisfied or property sold. The process is designed to encourage delinquent taxpayers to address the unpaid taxes quickly to avoid additional fees incurred each time a statutorily required action is taken towards conducting a tax sale. These fees have to be passed on to the delinquent property owner for the sake of fairness to the majority of taxpayers who fully comply each year by remitting their property taxes in full and on time.
Adjudicated properties are the result of unpaid taxes that also go unsold at a tax sale each year. Most municipalities have an inventory of various size of these types of properties, and struggle with how to manage and return them to commerce. Like the property tax sale process, this is also very costly and complex given the numerous ordinances and statues that must be followed without exception. Fortunately, LaMATS has established a comprehensive approach to help municipalities work through a process that may take several months to several years, depending on the legal status of the property. Once again, proper notice to all legally interested parties is one of the main features of the service. We are confident enough in our ability to achieve proper notice, and perform all other requirements within established law that LaMATS will indemnify the municipality from a legal challenge. There’s also the matter of a would-be purchaser of adjudicated property being able to obtain a clear title and title insurance. We ensure that also.
With property taxes quickly becoming due by the end of the year, we urge you to contact Cliff Palmer, Executive Director, LaMATS at firstname.lastname@example.org for the steps needed to immediately implement the tax collection/sale processes, and to start addressing your adjudicated properties.