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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Franzen: Do Not Get Caught In The Delinquent Tax Web

By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney

Every year my office gets dozens of calls stating that they never received a tax bill for their property.   If you own property, you must pay taxes on that property.   If you do not receive your tax bill, then state law places the burden on you to obtain a copy of your bill and pay the taxes.   The punishments mandated by state law are so severe that the consequences of inaction will inevitably cost you additional precious funds.  Do not get caught in the delinquent tax web.   Pay your real estate taxes before they become delinquent.  

Kentucky’s penalties for not paying property taxes on time are, to put it mildly, harsh!  Please consider this article a warning about the consequences of not paying property taxes timely.  State law mandates that delinquent tax bills incur penalties and interest.  Fees as much as 30% of the face tax amount are added to the tax bill in addition to 1% per month or 12% per year in interest.   These delinquent tax bills are put up for sale sometime between July 14 and September 1st of each year.   The State has very carefully removed authority on these matters from the local officials. The County Attorney’s office attempts to notify the delinquent tax payers of the pending sale date 60 days and again 30 days prior to the tax bill sale.

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The already burdensome penalties and interest that are levied, increases exponentially when the tax bill is actually sold.   When the bills are transferred to the Clerk by the Sheriff, the tax bills become Certificates of Delinquencies.  Certificates of Delinquencies are sold to third party purchasers and their lien is recorded with the County Clerk. Once a tax bill is sold to a third-party purchaser, a certificate of delinquency is filed by the County Clerk in the real estate records establishing a lien on the property.  The third-party tax bill purchaser sends a letter to the property owner notifying the delinquent tax bill payer that their tax bill has been purchased and stating the amount of fees that are due.   After a waiting period, the third-party tax bill purchaser can file a foreclosure suit against the property.  State law permits the third-party tax bill purchaser to add administrative fees, costs, and attorney fees to its bill.  After this process, your tax bill is several times the amount of the original bill and you are in danger of losing your property in a foreclosure sale.  A property owner may also have to pay the attorney fees of their mortgage holder during this process.

I hope this article has explained the delinquent tax bill process and emphasizes the importance of every property owner paying their tax bill before it becomes delinquent.   It is important to note that it is solely the responsibility of the property owner to see that its tax bill has been paid.  If you do not receive a tax bill, you need to contact the Sheriff’s or County Clerk’s office to obtain a copy of your tax bill.

If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at, by phone at (859) 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.


  1. I'm so glad you took the time to write this article. Many years ago during a divorce I got caught in this trap. My tax bill was sold and I actually had to take a loan from my retirement account to pay the tax bill owner 500 dollars over the original amount. It was painful on top of all the other financial stress I was under at that time. After that I plan to make sure my tax bill is paid on time and budget for the taxes.

  2. I am caught in this mess now. The Tax bill was sent to the property that I purchased and since there is no receptical, the post office sends it back to sender. This has gone on now for 4 years. When the delinquent bill was sold they didn't have any trouble getting the Civil summons to me. WHy couldn't they send me the tax bill?