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City versus county tax sales: your St. Louis Missouri guide

Posted on October 30, 2020

Do you get confused and stressed out by your taxes? Well, you’re not alone. Most Americans feel stress and anxiety surrounding the paying of taxes.

But, there are some easy ways for St. Louis, Missouri residents to understand their city and county real estate taxes. Let’s go through the differences so you can understand your taxes today.

City and County Tax Sales: What’s the Difference?

Let’s start with how taxes are assessed. The main difference in St. Louis City and county real estate tax assessments is who pays what. In the City of St. Louis, residential properties are taxed at a rate of 19%, commercial properties are charged 32%, and agricultural properties are charged 12%.

In St. Louis county, each municipality (ie Clayton, Kirkwood) is assigned a tax rate. That rate is then applied to the assessed value of your home.

Over time, the amount of real estate tax due can increase significantly!! If a person can’t afford their real estate tax, their property may fall into delinquency. If this happens, the County may put that property up for the tax certificate auction.

How Do Tax Sales Work?

In St. Louis County, and most other Missouri counties except the City of St Louis, once annually a tax certificate sale will be held in the 3rd week of August. There are 1st year tax sales (meaning the taxes are 3 years delinquent), 2nd year tax sales (meaning the taxes are 4 years delinquent and no one bid on or confirmed the 1st year tax sale) and 3rd year tax sales (meaning the taxes are 5 years delinquent).

At the tax sale there are competitive bids until there is a high and no other bids. The amount bid is due at the conclusion of the tax sale and then there is a waiting period.

For first and second tax sales, there is a one year waiting or redemption period. During that time, the property owner has a full year to pay the taxes and keep their property. The person who bid at the tax sale will receive interest of 10% on the delinquent tax amount, 8% on taxes they paid after the tax sale and nothing on the amount bid above the delinquent taxes.

During this one year process there are notices and statutory requirements that must be followed. Then, at the end of the one year period, if the owner has not redeemed and paid taxes, an affidavit following the statutory requirements is filed with the Collector and if all was done properly, the Collector will issue a deed to the purchaser at tax sale.

For third tax sales, the process is the same, but the owner only has 90 days to redeem once the statutory notices are sent.

After Three Years

If the property has gone up for tax sale 3 times and no one has purchased it, the property will now be included in a post 3rd sale process in St. Louis County or go to the County Trustee in many other counties. In either case, you can make a bid for that property, the County will accept or reject your offer, and if accepted – you will receive a deed for the property, without a redemption period.

The City of St. Louis is completely different. First, there are generally 4 or more tax sales that occur through the summer and fall months. If you are the high bidder at a sale, there is no redemption period, but the property must go through a court hearing confirmation process that will include an appraisal and expert testimony. If you are successful in obtaining confirmation, you will complete additional steps including applying for an occupancy permit, and then the City Sheriff will issue a deed to the purchaser at tax sale. Considering the differences, to ensure you complete the process correctly and protect your investment, you should consult with a lawyer to navigate the process.

Understanding Quiet Title

Once you have a deed from the Collector or the Sheriff you are still not quite done if you want to sell the property or take out a mortgage. For most title insurance companies to close a transaction on a property purchased at tax sale, they will require a Quiet title lawsuit be completed first. Quiet title can also help you make sure that the previous owner can’t try and reclaim the property through the courts. Our website has more information on tax sales and quiet title lawsuits.

State and County Taxes Aren’t as Scary as You Think

The St. Louis real estate tax system can be complicated when it comes to tax sales but you don’t have to navigate the system alone.

We can help when it comes to successfully navigating city and county tax sales. Contact us today to get started.