All commissioners were present.
The only agenda item was a tax surplus refund.
The Legal Advisor to the Camden County Commission, Charlie McElyea, stated that no action needs to be taken and the refund should be withdrawn.
And that was that.
Apparently, it’s part of McElyea’s job to review the the tax surplus refunds and ensure that they are legitimate and the party asking for the surplus is actually entitled to the surplus.
To explain this, there are a variety of situations where there can be a tax surplus on a property. Sometimes it’s because the property tax was overpaid. For example, if there is more than one owner of a property and they both pay the property tax for the same property in the same tax year.
More commonly, it occurs when the property is purchased in Camden County’s tax sale. Once a property is in property tax arrears for three years, Camden County will auction the property in the tax sale. This is more lenient than some other Missouri counties who will auction it off after one year of non-payment. Missouri mandates that properties must be auctioned in a tax sale after three years of non-payment of property taxes.
There can be a lot of complicated situations regarding these auctions, but in simple terms, the property is bid on at an auction. A person cannot bid at a tax sale if they are currently delinquent on taxes. The person who wins the auction on a property then must wait to see if the original owner is able to pay back or “redeem” the delinquent taxes. The original owner has a year at the most to redeem it and usually less time to redeem it if the property has been offered and received no bids in previous auctions. The third offering of the property offers a 90 day redemption period and subsequent offerings have no redemption period.
The auction winner has the responsibility to provide notice to the original owner or any other interested party regarding the opportunity to redeem the property. Once the redemption period has passed without redemption occurring, the auction winner will be issued a Collector’s Deed.
A surplus occurs when the amount paid at auction exceeds the taxes and costs due on the property. The Commission then must approve the placement of these funds into the county treasury. The surplus money first goes to any lien holders on the property. The remainder can be claimed by the publicly recorded owners. If the surplus is not claimed by the publicly recorded owner or owners within three years, the surplus goes into the school fund.
For example, I own a lakefront lot and I owe $15,000 in property tax and costs on the property. It’s auctioned and at the first offering, it is auctioned for $100,000. I have a year to pay the $15,000. If I don’t, I can still claim the surplus of $85,000 if I’m the only party that has a claim to it.