Landowners who are not paying property taxes get a tax lien imposed on their land. The lien gives the government a legal claim to the property as security for the tax debt.
If the landowner also ignores the tax lien, the government takes over the property. It issues a tax deed, a document that gives ownership of the property to itself.
Afterward, the government can conduct a tax deed sale where it auctions off the property to recover the delinquent taxes. It transfers the property to the buyer.
The government treats tax liens as public information. The local county treasury can provide a list of liens on properties within its area of responsibility.
Many of the properties end up in tax lien status because their owners died and left their property behind. In turn, many people who inherit the land do not want the burden because they live in a different state or cannot afford the annual tax.
You may approach a landowner burdened with a tax lien and make a cash offer to acquire the land in question. (Related: Thinking of moving out to the countryside? Some important considerations before you do.)
Every year, the government issues a tax refund to citizens. The amount varies for everyone but the new tax laws are bound to increase it.
Use the annual tax refund to make a cash offer for the land with a tax lien. Look for landowners who are trying to unload an unwanted piece of property for several hundred dollars.
Don't get discouraged if the tax return seems too small to sway a seller. Make the offer anyway. A prepper loses nothing and stands to gain a parcel of land for a bargain buy.
If you balk at taking the direct approach, you can take your tax refunds to tax deed auctions instead. Get a list of the tax lien properties from the local treasury and evaluate each case.
Set clear goals for the auctions by picking the choicest pieces of land. Also, set budgets for each property and avoid overspending.
Before contacting a landowner about acquiring their unwanted land or bidding for a tax deed, it's best to study the property first. It won't do to blindly throw the tax refund at what would turn out to be a disease-ridden marsh or a dumping ground for toxic waste.
Agricultural lands or mixed agricultural-residential properties make for good raw land. They get listed alongside commercial, residential, and other types of properties.
Visit the property and survey its lines. The tax deed might say the land measures 15 acres in length but neglected to mention the width of 50 yards.
Find out if the potential property is in a flood plain or has road frontage and access. Afterward, decide if it matches the intended use for it.
Finally, look for the mailing address of the owner of the property. The land might be located on the West Coast while the owner lives on the other side of the United States. Ask the city or county for assistance.
Before the deal or purchase is completed, secure a legal deed that certifies ownership of the property. Get the property owner to sign a contract or fill the official state-issued paperwork for securing the tax deed from the auction.