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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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