Drats, Thwarted Again

Posted November 14th, 2007 by Joe Kaiser

The problem is epidemic, Rob, and it's a dirty little game Washington counties are playing with property owners in this tax sale business.

Dear Rob,

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?

RCW 84.64.060

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?

Whatcom County

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.

Make sense?

Not to me.

Kitsap County

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.

Lewis County

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.

Pierce County

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?




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.


Good grief.

In the arena,

Joe Kaiser

6 Responses to: “Drats, Thwarted Again”

  1. Drew H. responds:
    Posted: November 15th, 2007 at 7:26 am

    What’s funny in my city is just the other month I went to the city treasurer and offered to pay the back taxes of a property in tax foreclosure(already sent to the attorney and everything). I told the lady I was looking to buy the property and wanted to clear the title of any owed taxes before I did. She spoke to her manager, then came back to me and said, “Sure you can pay them, your money is as good as the owners.” Their purpose was only to collect owed taxes, they have no interest in selling the property and collecting the overage. It seems to me that my city (450,000 residents) realizes their job is only to collect taxes not to add to their proffers by selling property they can’t find an owner for. They don’t care who pays the taxes as long as they get paid.

    Joe, how do you think the treasurers handle checks from large mortgage holders when it comes time to pay taxes, do you really think they verify interest before cashing each one of those checks? Those interests get assigned quite often, I imagine they simply cash the check and go about their day. Or maybe it’s only because it was you, your agents, your company involved, and they knew that, and knew to “thwart” you. Which certainly seems COMPLETELY illegal by creating a bias against you and limiting your company’s ability to generate revenue. It does seem you might eventually have to set outside the AG’s jurisdiction to find a non-bias party to set their foot down on this erroneous behaviour.

  2. DaveD responds:
    Posted: November 15th, 2007 at 7:56 am


    Your blog is getting more creepy by the day. I just go slack-jaw reading about the systematic abuse of power and conscious circling of the wagons by the county agents, all with apparent full support of the AG.

    I don’t know how you keep all of this straight, but you’ve got to be feeling like a duck in a shooting gallery. Bob and weave all you want, but you are caught in some really scary crossfire. By folks who will desperatly cling to their position, even as their ship sinks.

  3. olyguy responds:
    Posted: November 15th, 2007 at 10:13 am

    In a prior post, Luke said FBI.

    That sounds good to me. The state and counties are beginning to qualify as a RICO situation.

  4. Loya responds:
    Posted: November 15th, 2007 at 10:17 pm


  5. Bruce responds:
    Posted: November 17th, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    Joe, I think your county officials are CORRUPT – plain and simple.

    Last month I just paid my re taxes on a property here in IL. I specifically asked the woman at the window if it mattered who paid the. She said no. Just that they are paid.

    These county characters where you live obviously have added stipulations designed to “thwart” other citizens who might pay the taxes and later attempt to profit – all legally.

    These greedy county “servants” seem entirely focused on finding ways to assure that overages are most likely to escheat to the county.
    That homeowners might be able to save their properties is of no concern to these “little tin badge county tools”.

    I believe when this is fully exposed in court, these county folks will be shown to be the criminals they are; corrupt, scheming, and willing to stop at nothing to secure these ‘overages’.

  6. Joe Kaiser responds:
    Posted: November 18th, 2007 at 12:34 am

    Bruce, I think you may be onto something here.

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