Remember February 1st – or it could be costly
By Angela Rogalski
The Bolivar Bullet
All property, personal and mobile home taxes in Bolivar County are due on February 1, 2022. Will Hooker is Bolivar County Tax Assessor/Collector and said property taxes collected help fund services for all residents. Every land parcel owner, business owner and mobile home owner has until that date to pay their annual taxes with no additional cost.
“The 2021 real and personal property taxes along with mobile homes for 2022 are all due on or before February 1, 2022 for this year,” said Hooker. “After that if any person fails to pay the tax levied and assessed against them when due, per State statute, they shall be required to pay in addition to the amount of taxes unpaid after February 1st, interest at the rate of one-half of one percent per month from February 1st until the taxes are paid or until the county has its land sale for real property or deemed insolvent non-collectible for personal property. The land sale takes place the first Monday in April.”
According to Hooker, once a property owner misses the State’s due date, the Tax Assessor/Collector’s office lists a notice of the delinquent properties, which averages roughly around 10 % of the County’s parcels that are subject to go into the land sale and are published in the newspaper to officially notify the property owners.
“After publishing, if the taxes aren’t paid the properties are then put up for sale using an online land sale site where anyone can bid and pay the taxes,” said Hooker. “The Tax Assessor/Collector’s office then receives the money from the sale and distributes it to the appropriate entities such as school districts, municipalities’ junior college levee board, port commission, drainage districts, just to name a few.”
Hooker said there’s one common misconception sometimes by new buyers participating in the land sale: their ability to possess the property right away after purchasing a tax lien.
“And that’s not the case,” Hooker explained. “With tax lien auctions, you are not purchasing the property; you are purchasing a lien against the property. That doesn’t mean, however, that the person paying the taxes takes ownership of the property at that point. The property owner of record per the property deed still has an option to redeem, and pay to remove the tax lien inclusive of interest (1.5%) that accrued monthly along with additional fees added associated with the redemption process.”
Hooker added that often people refer to this redemption process as “paying back their taxes.”
“The property owner can redeem their taxes that someone else paid,” he said. “The redemption process is handled through the Chancery Clerk’s office. Once a property has been through the land sale and that sale is valid, that property is then transferred and handled by the Chancery Clerk’s office and typically must be redeemed in order for the prior taxes to be removed and the property status reverted back to current. The Tax Assessor/Collector’s office, under normal circumstances, cannot accept taxes if a prior tax status is indicated on the property which suggests the property is still in the redemption process phase.”
Hooker explained that Mississippi law establishes a separation of powers. The redemption process and/or back tax process is handled exclusively by the Chancery Clerk’s office. And, the current taxes are handled exclusively by the Tax Assessor /Collector’s office.
He also noted that investors and others who paid the delinquent taxes at the land sale and the monthly 1.5 percent interest that accrued goes to the person who paid the taxes if the property owner redeems the property.
Hooker warned that if the property owner allows the tax lien to mature in the redemption process, (two years from the tax sale date which is equivalent to three years from the tax year that was not paid) the property ownership can be forfeited. And the property ownership can be transferred by deed at that point.
“If a delinquent property tax remains ‘unsold’ at the land sale, it goes to the state and the property goes on the state’s list,” he added. “The property owner at this point can still redeem the property through the Chancery Clerk’s office. The processes we follow are dictated and consistent for all 82 counties by Mississippi code statutes.”
Hooker encouraged all taxpayers to remember the February 1st deadline and to avoid additional interest and fees being applied to their tax obligation by keeping their tax status current and paying directly through his office.
“The Tax Assessor/Collector’s office offers a litany of services on the County’s website to assist and allow online payments,” he said. “In addition, citizens can mail in their payments by February 1st deadline or utilize the outside drive-thru drop box locations that can be found at both the Cleveland and Rosedale courthouses. Not to mention citizens can pay their taxes now at either courthouse no matter the judicial district of the property.”
If anyone has any questions on the amount of tax obligation owed or inquiries on whether their property has a prior year associated, they can contact the Assessor/Collector office at 662-843-3926 or 662-843-2285. Hooker added that updates have been added to the County tax statements to be more transparent and legible with more detailed information to assist the citizens.
Bolivar County website: www.co.bolivar.ms.us/tax-assessor