Phillips County coffers increased to the tune of $178,987.35 following an auction of tax-delinquent properties in the county, reports John Thurston, commissioner of state lands.
Phillips County coffers increased to the tune of $178,987.35 following an auction of tax-delinquent properties in the county, reports John Thurston, commissioner of state lands. Twenty-two interested bidders signed up to participate in the auction that was recently held at the Chamber of Commerce in Helena. The sale is held each year by the state of Arkansas in an effort to collect the taxes that have been past due for more than two years. The Commissioner of State Lands office reported that 20 parcels were sold generating almost $180,000 in revenue for Phillips County and state government. “A small percentage of certified parcels make it to public auction because a majority of the properties certified to our office are redeemed, which means that the back taxes are paid by the original owner,” reported Thurston. According to Thurston, redemption of property is the preferred means of disposing of tax-delinquent lands but he stressed the importance of land sales in returning inactive parcels to the tax rolls. Registered bidder may buy the tax-delinquent property at no less than the minimum bid, which amounts to the assessed value of the property, plus all the taxes, penalties and interest that is owed. There is no charge to register as a bidder at a land sale. The commissioner provides a limited warranty deed to the highest bidder following the sale of the tax-delinquent property. A 30-day redemption period takes effect after the sale. Thurston says that if the original owner pays the back taxes and penalties during the 30-day period, the purchaser is refunded the full purchase price. The Commissioner of State Lands office returns delinquent tax and the interest collected, whether by redemption or sale, to the county taxing unit just as if the original money had been collected there. “In 2012, we returned almost $21 million to school districts and county governments,” said Thurston. “Stable revenue for the public schools is ensured through this process.” Arkansas residents may subscribe to the Catalog of Tax Delinquent Lands by phoning the State Land Office at 501-324-9422 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a free quarterly publication that lists all of the parcels offered for sale at auction.