Auditor Quietly Changes Policy Regarding Redemption of Property

By | August 3, 2017

August 2, 2017-You wouldn’t know it from the e-mail above, but Auditor’s Attorney Randy Wylie recently instructed staff to change a procedure involving tax sale redemptions. At issue was the amount which property owners were required to pay after a commissioner certificate for a property sold or was transferred. Under prior procedure, property owners were required to pay the amount of the certificate (back taxes) plus any amounts due from the time the certificate was issued until the date of redemption (post-certificate taxes). As Attorney Wylie acknowledges in the letter, “there was no change in the statute.”

The discrepancy between the procedure and the law was brought to light when a taxpayer complained about the redemption amount. According to the taxpayer, who did not want to be named, Wylie defended the practice at first. Ultimately, the procedure was quietly changed. It is unknown at this time whether there were taxpayers who were prepared to pay the certificate amount, but were turned away.

If the statute has always provided that a property could be redeemed for the amount of the certificate, who instituted the requirement to pay post-certificate taxes in the first place? When were the changes made and were owners of homes and businesses turned away when they tried to pay Lake County the back taxes?

While most Lake County residents do not believe they are affected by this change, the difference may be significant. As more and more cities and towns gobble up certificates and take properties off the tax rolls, those homeowners and businesses that are left are required to pay more of the bill for ever expanding services. So, for example, the City of Gary recently requested over 3,500 commissioner certificates. If those properties had been redeemed or sold, the City would have reaped millions in tax revenue. Now it is likely those properties will remain off the tax rolls for years and years to come.

If you had a property which was sold via a commissioner certificate sale and you were given redemption amounts, please contact ken@nwigazette.com We would like to hear from you.

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