Tennessee Delinquent Property Taxes

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If you don’t pay property taxes in Tennessee, you could have to pay interest and penalties. There’s also a risk of losing your house.

When are Tennessee property taxes due?

Tennessee doesn’t have a standard property tax due date. Each local government collects its own property taxes and sets the due date.

Contact your local city or county tax collector for your due date. If you’ve recently moved, remember that you may have to pay taxes soon after you move in, even if you’re used to paying at a different time during the year.

What’s the penalty for not paying property taxes?

The timeline you have to pay property taxes depends on where you live.

The usual process is as follows:

  • Receive your property tax bill

  • Have a few weeks or months where you may be able to receive a discount for paying early

  • Have a final deadline to pay the full amount due

  • If you miss the final payment deadline, you will owe interest on the delinquent taxes (often 1% to 2% per month)

  • If you still haven’t paid after a year or two, your property may be put up for a delinquent tax sale

How does a delinquent tax sale work?

Again, the delinquent tax sale process varies based on where you live, but it’s usually something like this (the months are just an example):

  • Your Year 1 property taxes become late as of January Year 2.

  • If you don’t pay the delinquent taxes and interest by April of Year 3 or Year 4, your property is put up for a delinquent tax sale.

Tax sales are a public auction where someone else can buy your home. Proceeds from the tax sale go toward paying off your delinquent property taxes, court costs, and other additional fees. Property owners receive any amount that’s left over.

After the tax sale, you often have a redemption period of up to one year. This gives you the right to buy your house back, but you’ll have to pay back the tax sale buyer with interest added on.

In some cases, such as an abandoned property, you may have as little as 30 days to redeem your property. The redemption period may often be shorter than one year if you have several years’ worth of delinquent taxes.

What should I do if I can’t pay my property taxes?

Tennessee generally doesn’t have statewide tax relief. Instead, each local government may have its own options to freeze property taxes, receive a payment plan, or delay a tax sale.

If you can’t pay your tax bills, contact your local government as soon as possible. It’s usually easier to resolve things before your taxes are due rather than waiting until you have delinquent real property taxes.

Can I sell my home if I have delinquent taxes?

Delinquent property taxes will usually result in a lien being placed on your home. A lien prevents you from transferring your home to a potential purchaser until you pay off the delinquent tax.

Normally, you can take care of the lien at closing. So if you have a $10,000 tax lien and sell your house for $100,000, $10,000 will pay off your taxes, and you’ll keep $90,000. The new owner will then have a clean title on the home.

Talk to a local real estate agent or lawyer about the exact steps involved when selling your home with a tax lien.

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