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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Campbell County Attorney: Do not get caught in the delinquent property 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 every year.   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 significantly.  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.   The State has removed most authority on these matters from the local officials.  In addition, unpaid tax bills become liens against the property and these tax liens are put up for sale in August of each year.   Prior to the sale, 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.

The already burdensome penalties and interest that are levied, increases exponentially when the tax bill is actually sold.  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.  If you also have a mortgage on the property, you may face additional repercussions pursuant to the contractual terms of your mortgage.

I hope this article 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 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.

Steven Franzen. 

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