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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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