More than two dozen foreclosure sales to begin

Nov. 18, 2013 @ 08:10 PM

More than 30 Vance County tax delinquency hearings last week resulted in orders to allow foreclosure sales to begin on 28 taxable property cases.

Vance County District Court Judge Amanda Stevenson issued the orders along with continuances on four cases that presented unusual circumstances in which orders were not appropriate at this time.

Foreclosure sales will include future announcements on properties available for bidding to start.

The tax foreclosure process is the last resort in a series of steps to urge owners to pay up on property taxes owed each taxable year.

Bills for the current year were due Sept. 1. The first step against tax delinquency is the attachment of 2-percent monthly penalties on overdue accounts beginning Jan. 6, according to Porche Brooks, director of Vance County’s tax office.

“If they owe more than two years and have not made a payment plan, then it goes to foreclosure,” Brooks said. “We turn those cases over to foreclosure court.”

That’s when Kyle Hicks, the tax attorney for Vance County, steps in. Hicks said Vance County has a heavy load of delinquent tax cases compared to other counties.

“We have well over 150 cases open at any one time in Vance County,” Hicks said. “There are many delinquent accounts. We are helping the county with that tax collection process.”

According to Hicks, the steps closer to a ruling that allows a foreclosure sale is often all it takes for an owner to settle.

“Many cases pay off during the process toward foreclosure,” Hicks said. “A lot of people just need the extra push to get the point and pay their bill.”

The first step is to file the foreclosure action. Next, several steps navigate through disclosure, certified party notifications and appeals. The foreclosure sale is the last step in a process that typically takes six to nine months on average, according to Hicks.

“Judgments were entered that begin the foreclosure sales process on those cases,” Hicks said of action last Tuesday. “That sale process will begin.”

Hicks said he would be filing those specific order documents in coming weeks. They were not available at press time.

According to Brooks, Stevenson’s orders granted permission for the sales to take place.

Hicks said he could not comment on any specific cases, but case files are available for public viewing at the Vance County Superior Court Clerk’s office.

One case that went full-circle, taking much longer that the typical six to nine months, involved a home at 561 McBorn St., Henderson. The case naming numerous heirs of Lena Johnson involved a foreclosure sale that included bids and a declared bid winner.

The case subsequently reverted back from foreclosure because an heir stepped forward to pay the tax bill, and Hicks found a technicality that shed doubt on whether heirs were properly notified.

“They actually have paid all of their taxes,” Brooks said. “They paid all they owed us, but they haven’t paid the attorney fee yet.”

The case file includes documents indicating a monthly payment plan has been arranged. The original bill in 2011, that included taxes from 2007, totaled $991.27.

In addition to a primary defendant, numerous cases name other defendants with claims on the taxable properties and liens.

In one such case last week, the IRS is a named defendant along with three named banking institutions. Together, they maintain more than $100,000 in claims on Jack and Janice Abbott for specific Oxford Road properties, Middleburg land and Piney Grove Road lots.

The IRS lien totals $97,294 on the properties, according to case files. Rudy Renfer, a U.S. attorney, said he could not comment on the specific case. He added that it is a common occurrence for certain cases to be complicated by numerous lien holders.

“We have tax liens on a lot of properties in a lot of places,” Renfer said. “If we have a tax lien, we file asserting our rights. Otherwise we have very little involvement with it.”

According to documents filed by Brooks for Vance County, the tax debt to Vance on the Abbott properties totaled $15,491 as of Nov. 5.

A motion by Renfer responds to the county claim that the IRS has secured its $97,294 plus interest and fees by way of foreclosure. Renfer stated in the document that the United States, “is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations.”

The case was continued.

Hicks said foreclosure cases are added to District Court civil calendars typically four times a year, and the next date for tax foreclosure hearings will take place in March.

After January, the next step in collection efforts against tax delinquencies is an annual advertising of county tax liens in May. According to state statute, the announcement must occur at least once between March 1 and June 30.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.