ILNews

Court: Buyer's remorse doesn't entitle refund

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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An Indiana Supreme Court ruling reinforces the phrase "buyer beware" during tax sales, affirming that a purchaser at a tax sale who doesn't seek a tax deed as required under Indiana Code is not entitled to a partial refund of the purchase price.

In the case In Re: Parcels Sold for Delinquent Taxes, Vanderburgh County Auditor et al. v. Michiana Campgrounds, LLC, 82S01-0701-CV2, the Supreme Court yesterday reversed the trial court's grant of Michiana's motion for a refund of the purchase price of three properties it purchased in a tax sale, minus a 25 percent penalty. Vanderburgh County refused to refund the money, arguing Michiana didn't meet the requirements under Indiana Code to receive a refund.

Under Indiana Code, purchasers at a tax sale are able to receive refunds of the purchase price minus 25 percent of the price if the purchaser follows the requirements under Indiana Code to obtain a tax deed but are refused the deed by the court.

In this case, Michiana never attempted to ask for a tax deed on three of the properties it purchased before it asked for a refund of the properties, minus the 25 percent penalty. The county auditor refused to issue a refund because Michiana chose to not follow the necessary steps under Indiana Code to be entitled to the refund. Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals ordered Vanderburgh County to refund the purchase prices minus the 25 percent penalty, citing I.C. 6-1.1-25-4.6(d).

The county argued Michiana shouldn't receive the refund because according to that statute, refunds are only granted if the purchaser has filed a petition for a tax deed. Because Michiana issued the first notice under section 4.5, but did not fulfill the requirements under section 4.6, Michiana should not receive a refund of any amount.

The Supreme Court ruled that tax sale purchasers have to make a "bona fide attempt" to comply with requirements under Indiana Code to obtain a refund. Because Michiana never applied for a tax deed, it couldn't be denied one by the court, which would enable the company to receive the refund minus the penalty. "We think that the statutory reference to 'refusal' purposefully limits refunds to purchasers who go to the time and expense of seeking a deed. Buyer's remorse is not a basis for a refund," wrote Justice Theodore Boehm.
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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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