An important new law, 36 M.R.S. § 949, has changed how municipalities may distribute proceeds from the sale of tax acquired property. The new law applies only to sales of property acquired through the tax lien and foreclosure process occurring on or after January 1, 2015.
Public Law 2015, Chapter 53 (LD 118) enacted 36 M.R.S. § 949, a new law that now permits, but does not require, municipalities to refund any excess funds from the sale of tax acquired property to the property’s former owner through the adoption of an ordinance. A municipality can now refund excess funds to the party named on the tax lien at the time of the tax levy or to the party’s heirs, successors or assigns, after subtracting all taxes and interest owed, recording fees, costs of notice mailings, court costs, taxes which would have been assessed while the property was held by the municipality, and any other costs associated with the disposing of the property. The new law applies only to sales of property acquired through the tax lien and foreclosure process occurring on or after January 1, 2015.
An ordinance must include standards and procedures governing the disbursement of any excess funds and the procedures must protect the interest of the taxpayers in the municipality.
With the advent of the new year, now is a good time for municipalities to review their current Tax Acquired Property Policies or Ordinances and consider the adoption of an ordinance in accordance with this new law.