The problem is epidemic, Rob, and it's a dirty little game Washington counties are playing with property owners in this tax sale business.
Have you wondered what’s going on here with all these county treasurers refusing to accept tax payments?
And why property owners with cashier’s checks in hand, standing at the counters of county treasurers throughout this state, are being turned away so treasurers can foreclose on their properties a day or two later?
Does that make sense to you or is it nothing short of bizarre?
County treasurers and county prosecutors believe their job is to prevent people from paying their property taxes. I kid you not.
They believe anyone can pay taxes on any property, provided foreclosure hasn’t started. But once it’s been filed, then, in the county’s interpretation, ONLY someone owning a recorded interest can pay.
Does the law really say that?
Here’s the statute . . .
Any person owning a recorded interest in lands or lots upon which judgment is prayed, as provided in this chapter, may in person or by agent pay the taxes . . . — RCW 84.64.060
Notice anything missing?
Had it included the ONLY word, then perhaps their argument would be more compelling. Still, though I disagree, I’ll give it to them and agree to disagree the law says you must have a recorded interest to pay taxes on a property in tax foreclosure.
My question, though, is “Why?”
Why would the county care who pays?
Isn’t collecting taxes the part of the job that matters here?
Or the better question . . . why are they so eager to thwart any attempts to pay taxes and in doing so create easily avoidable foreclosures?
A few years ago, in Whatcom county, my partner and I purchased mortgages from two different lien holders on two properties in their tax sale. We paid the lien holders cash and they each gave us a hand written bill of sale.
We now owned both those liens and by “owning a recorded interest,” per the statute, we attempted to pay our property taxes to prevent the pending foreclosures from taking place.
We were thwarted.
The county refused to let me record my hand written agreements (although the law would seem to indicate recording was not needed, the fact I had been assigned the liens made me the owner of those recorded interests).
Just the same, I left a cashier’s check with the treasurer to cover the taxes and a day or two later they foreclosed, sending back my check.
Not to me.
And my friend John, who stood at the counter in Kitsap County with a cashier’s check county Treasurer Barbara Stephenson refused to accept?
She went on to maliciously foreclose on his family home of some 50 years, a travesty.
Not to mention yesterday’s post where Rose Bowman, Lewis County Treasurer, returned my check and maliciously foreclosed as well, deciding that was the appropriate thing to do.
It wasn’t, Rose.
Or my friend Bill who’s suing Pierce County as we speak for refusing to accept his cashier’s check last year after having bought out the heirs of a property in the tax sale, only to have the county foreclose on it.
Was foreclosure really necessary, Bob?
It’s an overage play
The problem is epidemic, Rob, and it’s a dirty little game Washington counties are playing with property owners in this tax sale business.
What the heck is going on here, you ask?
The counties, hard at work on their own overage plays.
title challenged properties
The ONLY reason I can think of for this law is to make it more difficult to pay taxes so more properties can go to tax foreclosure so more overages can be created so more funds can escheat to counties.
And to guarantee that happening, county treasurers and prosecutors are doing whatever they can to thwart owners and investors alike from protecting their interests in title challenged properties (the kind where escheating funds happen most often).
Get the counties out of it
Again, I have no problem with a law that says only someone owning an interest of record can pay taxes on a property in foreclosure.
And if someone pays who was not authorized to do so, then the owner of that property should be able to sue him for damages (although I can’t imagine why he would).
The problem isn’t the law, Rob, it’s giving county treasurers and county prosecutors the power to decide who does or does not own a “recorded interest.”
Counties should be out of the picture entirely and have no say in the matter. Their conflict of interest is obvious.
Their job should simply be to accept payment and if not authorized, let the owner deal with whoever wrongfully paid.
Let the court decide
Ownership interests can be difficult to ascertain.
Title reports are notoriously inaccurate. Lawsuits over disputed land ownership are decided by judges who’ve seen evidence and heard testimony.
Yet I have to stand there and have some county clerk tell me I can’t pay taxes on my own property because I haven’t sufficiently proven to him or her that I have an interest?
THE JOB IS TO COLLECT THE TAXES, NOT TO CREATE OVERAGES THAT MAY LATER ESCHEAT TO COUNTY EXPENSE FUNDS.
Do you not see what is happening here, Rob?
Isn’t it time you put a stop to this insanity and bring these county officials under control?
Believing their job is to thwart me and anyone else from paying our property taxes so they can turn around, foreclose and maybe pick up some free overage money for themselves is nothing short of obscene.
In the arena,