Collectors of delinquent taxes have the following options when delinquent taxpayers own property:
1. Distrain the property of the owner and sell it at public auction (32 V.S.A. §§ 5191–5193) after properly attaching a tax lien in the case of personal property (32 V.S.A. §§ 5061–5079);
2. Bring suit in court against the property holder to recover the tax and costs (32 V.S.A. §§ 5221–5227) after properly attaching a tax lien in the case of personal property (32 V.S.A. §§ 5061–5079); or
3. Sell the real estate against which the tax was applied (32 V.S.A. §§ 5251–5263).
These are complicated processes that must be followed correctly and legally. A lawyer should be consulted when initiating any of the above proceedings.
The following are four rules of thumb:
- There is an automatic tax lien on real estate as soon as the grand list is lodged in the town clerk’s office;
- Taxes "run" with the property. Taxes should be paid before a property is sold. If the property is sold with taxes outstanding, the property is still subject to the lien and tax sale — meaning it is up to the new owner to assure the taxes are paid;
- Acceptance of full or partial payment of overdue taxes shall not preclude the town from collecting the remaining balance of taxes, and any interest or penalties thereon;
- Once a tax bill or warrant is issued, it must be either paid in full or fully abated or some combination thereof. The criteria for abatement are very limited! (See 24 V.S.A. § 1535.) A town cannot "write-off" delinquent taxes — they must either be paid or abated in full.
To insure proper credit all checks should be made payable to the Town of Groton, CDT and sent to the address below:
Collector of Delinquent Taxes
Town of Groton
1476 Scott Hwy
Groton, VT 05046