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Insufficient notice voids tax deed

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found a Carroll County man should be allowed to make a redemption payment to obtain five parcels of real estate owned by his mother that were put in a tax sale. The failure to comply with the statutes governing tax sales and redemption rendered void a tax deed on the properties assigned to someone else.

The land owned by Joshua Lindsey’s mother, who is deceased, was delinquent on taxes, so it was put in a tax sale on April 9, 2012. Lindsey had lived on the property for more than 40 years. The tax sale certificate was assigned to Adam Neher. Notices published in the local newspaper said the tax sale occurred April 11, as did a redemption notice addressed to Lindsey’s mother.

When Lindsey went to the auditor’s office to request a redemption amount on Aug. 9, 2012, he was told that the redemption period had expired one day earlier and he couldn’t make a payment. He challenged the issuance of the tax deed, which the trial court had ordered be issued to Neher on Oct. 11, 2012.

In Joshua Lindsey v. Adam Neher, 08A04-1211-MI-575, the COA agreed with Lindsey that the tax deed is void due to insufficient notice and that he was deprived of his constitutional right to due process. The actual and constructive post-sale notices failed to accurately reflect that the tax sale took place April 9, Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote, and so Lindsey wasn’t given a proper date upon which to calculate the redemption period.

The judges rejected Neher’s argument that because the notice was issued, the inaccuracy of the tax sale date is inconsequential and the redemption date must be mathematically calculated without regard to the content of the notices.

“If we held as Neher suggests – that so long as notices are issued and received, the statutory period runs without regard to the content of published notices or communications between parties – that holding could invite fraud in future cases. A party may not draft, publish, and mail erroneous information, making no correction before the lapse of a statutory period, and then benefit from the dissemination of falsity,” he wrote.

The judges ordered the Carroll County auditor to accept Lindsey’s redemption payment.

 

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