Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Tax-Lien Foreclosures on the Rise
A report released this week by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), says the number of foreclosures tied to delinquent tax payments is climbing. The NCLC, an advocacy group, estimates that $15 billion of tax-lien foreclosures happened in 2010, the latest year for which data are available. Rising tax-lien problems stem from two overlapping trends associated with the weak economy: To close budget deficits, some local governments are increasing proxy taxes to raise additional revenue. But a growing number of homeowners, many unemployed or living on fixed incomes, are finding those tax bills—even before rate increases—a strain. When homeowners fail to pay, municipalities have the legal authority to foreclose or auction off the tax lien to debt collectors, who can charge interest rates as high as 50% on the outstanding balances. If the homeowner doesn't pay —- the deadlines to do so vary across the nation —- many states allow the tax-lien holders to take ownership of the properties and resell them.