Property Tax Liens In West Virginia
The interest on tax liens is 12% per annum (1% per month) and the redemption period is 17 months. Liens that are not sold at the tax lien sale are certified to the state.
If the state purchases the account, and the property is not redeemed within 18 months it may be sold by the county in a “land sale.”
The county sheriff handles tax collection and tax lien sales. West Virginia code requires that tax lien sales be held between October 14th and November 23rd of each year.
The purchaser, or an authorized representative, must be present in order to purchase a tax lien.
Bidding starts at the amount of taxes. Premium is bid and no interest is paid on the premium amount, however the premium is returned to the tax certificate purchaser should the lien be redeemed. A certificate of sale is issued to the successful bidder.
If the tax lien is not redeemed within the 17-month redemption period, the purchaser may then apply for a tax deed through the county clerk’s office. This needs to be taken care of right away because the lien expires after 18 months.
If you wait too long to apply for a tax deed, you will lose your investment. The interest on a tax lien certificate is 1% per month. You earn this on the certificate amount and any subsequent tax payments.
The lien purchaser is also entitled to additional expenses incurred, and all additional statutory costs paid applicable to the lien.
Subsequent taxes may be paid by the lien holder, as they become due, in order to protect the purchase. If such taxes are not paid, the property is again offered for sale at the sheriff’s tax lien sale for the appropriate year.
Any lien that is not sold at the sheriff’s sale is certified to the West Virginia State Auditor. The state auditor is the ex-officio commissioner of forfeited and delinquent lands.
Former owners then have an 18-month period to redeem the property from the state auditor’s office.
The state supervises a second sale at the county courthouse. The parcels sold at these tax sales are delinquencies that were certified to the state auditor at the sheriff’s sales but were not redeemed from the state auditor’s office within the statutory 18 months.
A deputy commissioner’s sale purchaser must fulfill certain requirements to secure a deed to the property from the deputy commissioner.
The purchaser must do this within 30 days following the sale or lose all benefits of the purchase. For an explanation of what must be done to secure a deed, you will need to contact the West Virginia State Auditor’s office.
A purchaser can obtain a tax deed from the deputy commissioner within about 4 months of the sale.
The purchaser will pay a deed preparation fee and the deed-recording fee. A tax deed, either from the clerk of the county commission, does not convey absolute title to the property.
Rather, it is a quitclaim deed. It merely conveys whatever right or interest held by the state for nonpayment of taxes.
At both of these tax sales, a purchaser stands the chance of purchasing nonexistent land that was the outcome of a double or an incorrect assessment.
Although the “buyers beware” principle generally applies, refund statutes exist for both sales.
A purchaser should contact the sheriff or deputy commissioner on the procedure for obtaining a refund.