What is a Fi. Fa.?
Fi. Fa., short for the Latin term Fieri Facias, is a tax lien filed against a property authorizing the respective municipal or county government to take the legal actions necessary to collect on overdue taxes.
What payment methods are available to pay off tax balances due?
Acceptable payment methods are left to the discretion of the respective county or municipality issuing the tax lien.
General practice allows tax payers to use regular payment methods (credit card, cash, personal check, etc.) up to the Certified Notice phase of the Tax Sale after which only cash or Certified Funds (money order or cashier’s check) are accepted.
Tax payers should contact their local tax office for further clarification.
Can penalties and interest be waived if I did not receive a Tax Bill?
No. Failure to receive a tax bill does not relieve responsibility to make payment by the due date.
Tax payers may request a copy of their tax bill from their local tax office. Additionally, many counties and municipalities now offer the option to view/pay a tax bill online.
If the issue persists from year to year, then it is up to the tax payer to ensure their mailing address is up to date with all relevant taxing authorities (i.e. the tax assessor) as well as ensuring there are no issues with the U.S. Postal Service.
My property was auctioned off at a tax sale, but I never received notice of delinquent taxes due on the property. Is this legal?
Beginning three (3) months prior to a tax sale, various forms of written communication are sent in an attempt to notify the owner and any relevant parties of delinquent taxes due on a property. These include but are not limited to:
A tax statement, Notice of Levy, a Certified Letter, 4-weeks of Newspaper Advertising, and signage posted on the property.
I want to get my property back. What am I supposed to pay the buyer to redeem my property?
Any party with the right to redeem the property must pay the Holder of the Tax Deed (i.e. the buyer) the amount of property taxes paid at the Tax Sale. This amount may include prior taxes as well as any current or prior tax amounts paid to separate taxing authorities. It also within the right of the buyer to claim an additional 20% within the redemption period.
My property sold in a tax sale for more than the taxes owed. What happened to the excess money paid?
Any “excess funds” generated from the sale of a parcel after all taxes and administrative costs are paid are able to be claimed by any interested parties. A notice will be sent to the same parties which were notified during the levy and sale process. This notice contains the name of the buyer, the buyer’s address, opening bid, sale price, and any excess funds amount with a description of the real property sold (O.C.G.A. § 9-13-160; 9-13-161; 9-13-166; 48-2-55; 48-4-1; 48-4-3; 48-4-4; 48-4-6; 48-4-20).
For further direction on claiming excess funds, contact the respective tax office that conducted the tax sale.
When is my city/county hosting its next tax sale?
This is left to the discretion of each county and municipality. Although it is not required, local governments generally host at least one (1) tax sale per year.
The local tax office should be contacted for further information.
How do I get an updated list of properties in a tax sale?
Peach State Assistance, Inc. (PSA) hosts a rolling list of all parcels to be sold in a local government’s tax sale. This list is updated at least once per tax sale phase and is available for public viewing.
Do I have to register to participate in a Tax Sale?
In order to streamline the deed filing process, PSA does require bidders to register for the tax sales we conduct. This is a one-time registration which may be done online prior to the tax sale or in-person the day of at no cost.
Bidders are issued a Bidder ID Number which they may use at any future tax sale conducted by PSA, regardless of county/municipality.
What does “Buyer Beware Sale” mean?
Prior to the tax sale auction, a “Buyer Beware” warning is issued to potential buyers to not bid based upon photos and property descriptions they may have found online or from any source which may be outdated and not reflect the current condition of the property. Buyers are advised to visit the property beforehand in order to mitigate this.
I purchased a parcel at the latest tax sale. If I pay all prior and current property taxes due, then I now own the property, right?
Not immediately. When a property is sold at a Tax Sale, the buyer becomes the “Holder of the Tax Deed“, and the property enters a “Right of Redemption” period which lasts One Day & One Year from the Date of Tax Sale.
If this Redemption period expires without the property being redeemed or the owner is not contacted about the property, then the Holder of the Tax Deed may begin the Notice of Foreclosure of Right to Redeem process.
The Right of Redemption period has expired with no redemption or attempts to redeem the parcel, can I develop the property now?
The buyer of a parcel may take ownership of the purchased parcel by one of two methods:
1.) The buyer may foreclose on the Right of Redemption. This prevents any prior owners or relevant parties from attempting to regain ownership on the property. The buyer must issue Written Notice of this action. Continuing forward, the buyer may take steps to become the deeded owner of the property.
2.) If the buyer does not formally foreclose on the Right of Redemption, they will automatically take title to the property four (4) years after the tax deed’s recorded date if the property is not redeemed. This is known as the “Ripening” of the tax deed.