Many in Tallapoosa County waiting until last minute to pay property taxes (copy)

Eva Middlebrooks conducts a property tax sale in the basement of the Tallapoosa County Courthouse. This year the recovery of delinquent property taxes is moving to a tax lien sale and completely online.

Tallapoosa County is changing up how it does property tax sales.

Gone are the days of a property with delinquent ad valorem taxes going to the highest bidder. Instead, it’s now the lowest bid interest rate.

Tallapoosa County Revenue Commissioner Eva Middlebrooks said the change in Tallapoosa County Starts this year but is permitted based on 2018 legislation.

“It is no longer a property tax sale,” Middlebrooks said. “It is a tax lien sale.”

The old law has been interpreted several times by various attorney generals and court cases. The tax lien makes the capture of delinquent property taxes easier and less burdensome for those who are behind on their taxes.

“With the tax lien they are not taking immediate possession of the property,” “We file the lien and after three years the purchaser can file for a judgment of foreclosure.”

Even the sale is different. In the past if $1,000 was due, bids started at that point and went up. Delinquent taxpayers would have to pay the amount bid plus interest.

The new sale is an interest bid where the highest bid is 12% and the lowest bid wins the tax lien. It is possible for a bid of 0%. The delinquent taxpayer only pays interest on the delinquent tax amount under the new system and not the bid amount of the old.

The sale will not be conducted in person. Last year the tax sale was delayed more than a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tax lien sale begins with pre bids online starting May 1 and finishing up May 3. Middlebrooks said bidders must register at tallapoosapropertytax.com There are two links, one to the tax lien sale for registration and the sale and the other answers all the questions. Middlebrooks said registration for the sale opens Wednesday. The list of properties is also included on the website.

With the delay last year, only 33 parcels were delinquent. As of Monday, Middlebrooks said 272 were delinquent and by the time of the sale she expects about 65 properties to still have delinquent taxes.

The last couple of years a few commercial accounts have pushed the total owed to six figures. As of Monday the delinquent accounts totaled $82,348.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.