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Expert Interview with Randy Saunders on the West Virginia Tax Sale Process

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Tax Sale Resources
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Click to download the full white paper about the West Virginia Tax Sale Process by Randy Saunders of Nelson Mullin Riley & Scarborough

Introduction

The state statute code guiding the tax sales in West Virginia fall under Chapter 11A.  The state of West Virginia offers both a lien sale and a deed sale.  Lien sales are handled through the sheriff’s office while the deed sales are handled by the deputy commissioner and only include properties that are escheated, unappropriated lands, and unentered.  For the sake of this summary, it will focus on the tax lien sales specifically.  However, Randy Saunders of Nelson Mullins, does address these deed sales in his white paper

Interview Summary

Tax lien sales in West Virginia are all held between October 14 and November 23 of each year.  This is a summary of the process and the statutory review:

  1. The sheriff conducts the sales in each county live on the courthouse steps.  
  2. The year of delinquency being sold in the year previous and bid up premium method is used to determine the winner of the tax sale certificate. 
  3. A post-sale notice is required by the sheriff’s office within one month of the sale.
  4. A lien may not remain on a property more than 18 months after the sale, so a tax deed must be filed before then which requires several elements including “(1) prepare a list of persons to be served with a notice to redeem, (2) provide the State Auditor with the physical mailing address of the property if the property is Class II property, (3) provide the State Auditor with a list of expenses incurred after January 1 of the year following the sheriff’s sale that will be added to the lien, (4) pay the State Auditor a sufficient sum to cover the costs of preparing and serving the notice to redeem, and (5) present the certificate of sale to the State Auditor.”
  5. You MUST request a tax deed.
  6. Subsequent taxes can be purchased by the certificate purchaser before a delinquency is offered at another sale.
  7. If redemption occurs, the tax certificate purchaser is entitled to “the amount of taxes, charges due on the date of sale, all other taxes paid on the property, any reasonable expenses incurred from January 1 of the year following the sheriff’s sale up to $500, and interest calculated at 12% per annum on this total amount.”

Conclusion

There are many entities involved in the tax certificate process in West Virginia and each one has a specific step and duties that must be completed during the life cycle of the lien before a deed can be petitioned.  Read more about those details in Randy Saunders’ white paper

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