BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Sheriff’s Tax Office has recouped more than $500,000 in delinquent real estate property taxes since the county’s chief tax deputy presented the initial list of delinquent properties in May 2019.
Chief Tax Deputy Heather Sparks attended the Thursday, Feb. 7 Upshur County Commission meeting to present the final disposition list of all real estate taxes returned delinquent for the 2018 tax year. Exactly $506,505.87 in delinquent real property taxes have been paid since the initial presentation in May, she said.
“In May of 2019 there were approximately 1,821 delinquent properties totaling a little over $525,000 in delinquent real taxes,” Sparks said. “We advertised this list in The Record Delta, according to the West Virginia State Code. The next list was generated in September and again, this was advertised as a Class III legal notice, which means that was advertised once a week for three consecutive weeks.”
At that time, she and her tax deputies started researching all the properties.
“We usually have to go to the assessor’s office to pull the map cards to check that sort of thing,” Sparks said, “but we were able to do that online this year, so that was very helpful to be able to not have to go over there and do it all. We really do research every aspect of the property so we can make sure the correct taxpayers are being notified.”
She said after researching the properties, they sent out 900 certified letters and then they had the land sale Nov. 20, 2019.
Sparks explained 146 properties had been taken to the Sheriff’s Annual Tax Sale in November 2019.
“Before the sale, we actually did have 1,542 properties worth approximately $506,000 redeemed, which means they were just paid prior to the sale,” Sparks said. “We suspended 133 properties totaling $1,480 before the sale, and these properties … were mainly the coal properties that were sold at the state from the prior tax sale, and there were also some gas royalties that we cannot sell.”
She said they took 146 properties to the sale and 123 properties were sold to individuals, which totaled $14,234 in taxes.
“Twenty-three properties were not bid on, so they were sold to the state and they total $3,592 and since these properties were sold to the state, the state will hold on to them until March 31, 2021. But they can still be redeemed,” Sparks said.
Sparks said if someone is interested in redeeming their property, they need to call the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office, Land Division at 1-888-509-6568.
“I do want to stress to the citizens of Upshur County that had a tax lien sold against their property that whether it was to the state or to an individual that they can redeem the properties and get them back,” Sparks said.
A lien is a legal claim or right against a property that allows a person or entity to take the property or other legal action if debts are not paid.
She also wanted to thank all her tax deputies for all their hard work.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank my tax deputies,” Sparks said. “This has been quite a year for our office. We had a lot of illnesses, we had deaths in the family, we had a lot of hardships that left us a little short-staffed at times, but they’re just amazing women. They take on the additional responsibilities, and they work well together. I couldn’t do this job without them.”