Again on the topic of property tax assessments, the Court of Appeals issued a ruling that a purchase at a tax sale doesn’t qualify for the one-year purchase price freeze. The opinion is here. Typically when a person buys a house, the maximum tax assessed value for the following year will be the purchase price. The appellant in this case purchased properties at tax sales and argued that the assessment should be equal to the amount paid at the tax sale.
Tax sales occur when a property owner is delinquent on his or her property taxes. When a buyer purchases the property at a tax sale, the property owner is allowed up to a year to redeem the property by paying the tax sale purchaser the amount paid at the tax sale plus a percentage. If anybody is interested, the Richmond County properties that will be sold at the upcoming tax sale can be found here.
As the court noted, the purchaser at a tax sale doesn’t receive fee simple title to the property. In short, the Court reasoned that tax sales do not reflect a fair market valuation of the property and are irrelevant with respect to the statute freezing the assessment at the purchase price.
I agree with the Court’s opinion. The intent of the statute is to tax property at the fair market value and tax sales normally do not come close to bringing what a property is actually worth on the market. I am surprised the appellant went all the way to the Court of Appeals with this argument.