News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 12, 2008

Tax sale generates more than $460,000 for Vigo County

The tax sale drew about 70 people

TERRE HAUTE — A tax sale Tuesday generated more than $460,000 for Vigo County in taxes and penalties from unpaid property taxes in 2007.

The tax sale started with 577 properties, with 102 properties avoiding sale by having their taxes paid beforehand, said Vigo County Auditor Jim Bramble. The sale sold 152 properties, totaling $1.66 million. Of that, $463,211 was paid to Vigo County in taxes and penalties. The tax sale was for property taxes payable in 2007.

Many of the properties sold for five or more times the amount of taxes owed. Often, a company will pay more for a property than taxes owed in hopes of recouping the amount paid plus 10 percent per annum interest.

“It can be a good investment,” Jim Hughes of SRI Inc., which ran the tax sale for the county, told bidders before the tax sale.

Hughes, however, said it is a “buyer beware sale” as the buyer must know the property they are bidding on. “We don’t say if there is a half million dollar house on the property or just a vacant lot. We are selling it just to get taxes paid on it,” Hughes said.

The buyer obtains a tax-sale certificate, which is a lien against the property. If the owner does not pay off the lien and taxes, the certificate owner can go before a county court to obtain a deed to the property.

In a 2006 tax sale, there were 155 properties sold of 541 properties in the tax sale. That sale generated $1.43 million. Of that, $381,175 was paid to the county for taxes and penalties, Bramble said.

The tax sale drew about 70 people, including Robert Thompson, owner of two car dealerships and a motorcycle dealership, and local businessman Joseph Selliken.

When asked later Tuesday, Selliken, who operates the not-for-profit Osler Institute, said he did not register as a buyer at the auction and was merely there an as observer.

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