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Delinquent Property Taxes

Reference Number: MTAS-531
Reviewed Date: 11/28/2022

Delinquent Property Taxes
A municipality has the option to collect delinquent property taxes any one of four ways:

  • Under the provisions of its charter for the collection of delinquent property taxes;
  • Under T.C.A. §§ 6-55-201–206;
  • By the county trustee under T.C.A. § 67-5-2005 (a)-(c); or
  • Under T.C.A. § 67-5-2005 (d).

If the municipality has the authority under its charter to collect its property taxes, but the charter makes no provision for the collection of delinquent property taxes, then the municipality may provide by ordinance for the collection of delinquent property taxes. (As a practical matter, it is unlikely that any municipal charter authorizes a municipality to collect its own property taxes but does not authorize it to collect delinquent property taxes).

If a municipality uses the county trustee or the delinquent tax attorney to collect its delinquent property taxes, the municipality must certify its delinquent taxes to the trustee by April 1 of the second calendar year after the taxes become due.

T.C.A. § 67-5-2405 requires the county delinquent tax attorney to bring suit in the name of the county, in the county’s behalf and for the benefit of any municipality that has certified a delinquent tax list.

Property certified to the county trustee shall be advertised and sold by the county trustee at the same time, in the same manner, and as a part of the county trustee’s other sales of property for state and county taxes. T.C.A. § 67-5-2005.

T.C.A. § 67-5-2010(a)(1) provides that, "To the amount of tax due and payable, a penalty of one-half percent and interest of one percent shall be added on March 1 following the tax due date and on the first of each succeeding month except as otherwise provided in regard to municipal taxes."

Therefore, if the municipality collects its own current property taxes but turns the collection of its delinquent property taxes over to the trustee, the property tax due and delinquency dates, the penalties, and the interest are those set out in the municipality’s charter or ordinance.

T.C.A. § 67-5-2010(b) provides that, in all instances in which current municipal taxes are collected by the county trustee, the following provisions and rules for collecting delinquent taxes that may be due to the municipalities, and none other, shall prevail and obtain, anything in this chapter to the contrary notwithstanding:

  • The taxes levied and assessed by such municipalities shall become due and delinquent on the date now provided by existing law; and
  • If the municipal taxes are not paid on or before the date fixed for delinquency in the amount due and payable, a penalty of 0.5 percent and interest of 1 percent shall be added on March 1 following the tax due date and on the first day of each succeeding month.

In this circumstance, where the county trustee collects the municipality’s current or delinquent property taxes, the property tax due and the delinquency dates remain those set out in the municipality’s charter or ordinance; however, the penalty and interest prescribed by that statute prevail over the municipality’s charter or ordinance and do not attach until March 1 following the tax due date.

A municipality is barred from collecting property taxes after the lapse of ten (10) years from April 1 of the year following the year in which such taxes become delinquent. T.C.A. § 67-5-1806.

T.C.A. § 67-5-1512 outlines the conditions under which taxpayers appealing their assessments must pay all or a part of the property tax and interest during the appeals process as a condition of the appeal.

Property taxes, interest, and penalties owed to the state, county, and municipality on property shall become and remain a first lien upon the property from January 1 of the year for which the taxes were assessed. Property taxes are also a personal debt of the property owners as of the same date. T.C.A. § 67-5-2101.

Extension of Due Date for Military Personnel Engaged in Hostilities
T.C.A. § 67-5-2011 extends the due date of property taxes owed by persons in the armed services or who are called into active duty from a reserve or National Guard unit and who are engaged in hostilities until 180 days after the conclusion of the hostilities or 180 days after the person is transferred from the area of hostilities, whichever is sooner.

When Delinquent if Mailed
"Any tax report, claim, return, statement, remittance, or other tax document required or authorized to be filed with any payment made to the state or to any political subdivision thereof, which is ... transmitted through the U.S. mail to the state or political subdivision and postmarked no more than 24 hours subsequent to the last date for the timely filing of such document or payment shall not be considered delinquent." T.C.A. § 67-1-107.