In its newest publication, the Center for Community Progress “lays a general foundation for understanding the property tax system, but specifically focuses on ways to reform the delinquent property tax enforcement process for vacant properties—those properties that pose the greatest harm to a community.”

According to the report;

In general, the property tax system has six major stages:

  1. Determine the value of the property
  2. Establish the rate of taxation
  3. Determine if property is subject to tax
  4. Apply applicable tax relief and determine the tax bill
  5. Collect the tax
  6. Enforce delinquent taxes

While this publication does not focus on occupied properties, it provides some examples of supports for financially insecure occupants to examine, such as:

  • Ensuring property value assessments are accurate
  • Providing homestead exemptions to owner occupants, and rebates or credits for financially insecure households to reduce property tax burden
  • Ensuring application processes for relief programs are not burdensome, providing application assistance, and driving multi-faceted public awareness campaigns
  • Offering many payment options such as monthly payments, cash payment, and payment at community locations

Among the recommendations local governments can take to build momentum:

  • Expediting the time frame for vacant properties first. For example, shortening the time period from delinquency to foreclosure only for vacant properties.
  • Ending tax lien sales for vacant properties and instead pursuing an in rem foreclosure action to bring the distressed property under local control.
  • Adding abatement costs to the tax bill ensuring that the costs the government incurred from mowing grass, boarding a property, removing trash, and other services are recorded as a lien against the property and added to the minimum cost private buyers must pay at tax sale.
  • Eliminating post-tax sale redemption periods will ensure the local government expends resources to move the property through foreclosure only if and after the owner fails to redeem. This also provides more certainty to private buyers at tax sale.
  • Reforming noticing provisions to ensure insurable title by providing constitutionally adequate notice and reducing the need for costly quiet title actions after tax sales.

To access the full report, please click here.