The list must be published in a newspaper, as required by law, in a last attempt to notify property owners of pending auction. The list for this year is inside today’s edition of the Daily Mountain Eagle.
“We do everything we can to notify the public — write letters, send out tax notices. We have exhausted every resource — everything we can do to make people aware,” Guthrie said.
In Alabama, property tax is due beginning Oct. 1. Property owners have until Dec. 31 of that year to pay or the taxes become delinquent. Owners are subjected to a $5 fee and 12 percent simple interest charges once taxes are delinquent.
“Fees are also charged for delinquencies. By the first Monday in May every year, if they are not paid, I have a public auction where we have to sell every unpaid property tax to the highest bidder above and beyond the tax amount due,” Guthrie said.
Residents may use the website, www.walkercountyrevenue.com, to make payments online.
Guthrie shared a few tips for understanding this year’s delinquency:
•When searching for names of delinquents, be aware to not only look for their names, but be observant for names of the person they may have purchased property from in the past one to two years. The delinquent property could still possibly be in the previous owners’ name due to taxes being paid in arrears.
•Change of ownership depends on when the deed was actually recorded and the property accessed. “Keep in mind with property taxes you’re actually paying arrears, but assessments are in the future,” Guthrie said.
•Tax notices are a complimentary service only as a reminder, not required by law. All property taxes across Alabama are always due Oct. 1 each year and are delinquent after Dec. 31 of the same year.
•Incorrect addresses are a major cause of not receiving tax notices. Be sure to keep the tax office updated of any address changes.
•Whenever you record a deed, be sure to access the property so you can claim any exemptions you may qualify for, such as: homestead, over age 65 exemption (based on income), and disability exemption or current use laws may apply to some.
•Tax exemptions are not automatic, but must be requested and applied for. The tax assessor’s office does not have knowledge of a person’s exemption qualifications or need.
•If your taxes are paid by a mortgage company, be sure you follow up with a call in December each year to be sure they have met their obligation. Sometimes tax sales occur because of failed communications or simple, honest errors.
•When taxes aren’t paid, by law, the delinquent property must be auctioned off to the highest bidder above the tax amount due. That sale occurs in May.
•A person losing their property to unpaid taxes still has a three-year, right of redemption, but that process often becomes very expensive for the property owner. The final cost and trouble to redeem is often not worth it. You want to avoid your property being seized for unpaid taxes if at all possible.
•The tax office is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., except holidays. For more information, call 205-387-7265.