Tax Sale Problem: Advice, Anyone?


I’m asking the group this question, on behalf of a member who is struggling with these issues. If you have any ideas, please share them.

The Alabama Code says property owner redeeming from a tax sale must pay the taxes due at time of sale, plus interim taxes (which are paid to the Probate Judge or Revenue Commissioner), plus “With respect to property which contains a residential structure at the time of the sale regardless of its location, the proposed redemptioner must pay to the purchaser or his or her transferee, in addition to any other requirements set forth in this section, the amounts set forth below” which includes insurance premiums and the value of preservation improvements. The additional charges are paid directly to the tax sale purchaser. There is no statutory authority or mechanism for the Probate Judge to collect those sums before issuing its Certificate of Redemption.

In Ross v. Rosen Rager (Ala. Supreme Court) the issue was: When does redemption take place? Is it when the Probate Judge issues the Certificate of Redemption, or is it when the owner pays the additional sums to the tax sale purchaser?

The court ruled it was when the Probate Judge issued the certificate of redemption. At that point, the tax sale purchaser is no longer entitled to possession of the property. So, how does he go about collecting his additional charges?

The Alabama Supreme Court offered little assistance because the issue was not in front of the court. They opined that the tax sale purchaser might seek one of the extraordinary writs, or might look to the circuit court’s general review jurisdiction over the probate court, in order to stop or stay the issuance of the redemption certificate.

According to my personal research, not a single one of the extraordinary writs would survive a motion to dismiss. The reasons are a little arcane for this post, but if you are interested, you can read them HERE

Based on the Supreme Court’s “advice,” my reader filed something in the Circuit Court to prevent the issuance, or to rescind the issuance, of a redemption certificate, because of the owner’s failure to pay the additional charges.

The Circuit Court dismissed, holding that it had only appellate jurisdiction over the Probate Court.

Any thoughts, any one?