The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a Vanderburgh Superior trial court Friday, ruling a man can claim a refund after the property he bought at a tax sale was reclaimed by the owner due to a clerical error.
Paul Angel bought property at a tax auction for $5,500. However, previous owner Townsquare Media filed a motion for relief from the tax deed order when it found a clerical error resulted in the county assessor’s office sending tax notices to the wrong address, which is why the taxes were not paid. Townsquare’s motion was granted.
Later that year, Angel filed a motion to establish the redemption amount, arguing that he should get a refund from the money he paid for the sale. Townsquare said the motion was final judgment, and he did not submit a timely request for issue of the surplus. The trial court found in favor of Townsquare, and Angel appealed.
Angel argued Indiana Code 6-1.1-25-12 provided he was entitled to recover amounts set forth in the statue and that if he’s not reimbursed, Townsquare would receive an inequitable windfall.
The COA found Angel was a grantee of the deed under the code’s definitions. Moreover, Angel was entitled to recover the amount paid because the code specified as such. The taxes were unpaid at the time of sale and Angel had acquired a lien on the property as grantee of the tax deed.
The court remanded the order to the trial court for a determination of how much Angel should recover. The case is Paul Angel v. Vanderburgh County Treasurer and Townsquare Media LLC, 82A04-1511-MI-1902.