COA: Petitioner entitled to tax deed after completing all steps

July 21, 2015

An entity that bought two properties at a tax sale fulfilled all the requisite steps to acquire ownership of the parcels, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled, rejecting an appeal from the trust that previously owned the properties.

The court affirmed a Lake County judgment challenged in The First Bank of Whiting, as Trustee of Trust dated 12/30/86 a/k/a Trust No. 1865 v. 524, LLC, 45A04-1410-MI-476. The panel ruled the trial court properly issued an order directing the auditor of Lake County to issue to 524 LLC tax deeds for two properties purchased at a tax sale. The tax sale notices substantially complied with requirements of Indiana Code sections 6-1.1-24-4, 6-1.1-25-4.5, and 6-1.1-25-4.6, and the trial court's order was timely.

Indiana Code § 6-1.1-25-4.6(b) spells out the conditions required for issuance of a tax deed. “Pursuant to the terms of the statute, the trial court must enter an order directing the county auditor to issue a tax deed within sixty-one days of the time of the filing of the petition for tax deed, but only after certain enumerated conditions are met,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote for the panel. “The fifth condition is that the petitioner has complied with all requirements that entitle the petitioner to the requested deed.

“"(W)e conclude that there is implicit in the statute a sixth condition, which is that the petitioner is legally entitled to a tax deed after completing all of the requisite steps. In cases, such as here, where the petition for an order directing a county auditor to issue a tax deed has been challenged, such entitlement is not established until the court rules on the validity of the challenge, and concomitantly the validity of the request for an order directing the auditor to issue the tax deed. In other words, under such circumstances, pursuant to I.C. § 6-1.1-25-4.6(b), a trial court has sixty-one days, after resolving a challenge to a petitioner’s request for a tax deed  in favor of the petitioner, to enter an order directing the auditor to issue the deed.”



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