The statutes and regulations surrounding tax lien sales leave considerable room for interpretation. This policy manual is designed to provide Flathead County’s interpretation of these statutes, but it is important to understand more than one interpretation of these statutes is possible. This policy manual is not legal advice nor does Flathead County provide legal advice to anyone regarding tax lien sales. This office is prohibited from advising anyone in any manner. Ultimately, purchasers or assignees of tax lien sale certificates are responsible for complying with all laws. Although Flathead County is tasked with conducting tax lien sales, numerous court cases have confirmed the ultimate responsibility for complying with the statutory structure rests with the purchasers or assignees of tax lien sale certificates.
Although statutes and regulations surrounding tax lien sales can be confusing and complicated, court cases have repeatedly found strict compliance with the statutory and regulatory framework is required in order for a tax deed to be issued. Flathead County strives to comply with the statutes, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the purchaser or assignee of a tax lien certificate to ensure all requirements have been met, even those over which the purchaser or assignee has no direct control.
Flathead County Treasurer’s office does not conduct tax sale assignment business during the tax season months of May and November; resuming when the processing of current postmarked mail is complete.
Tax Lien Attachments
General Timeline FOR PROPERTY TAX
Timeline subject to change pursuant to the flexibility provided by statute.
|On or before October 31st||1st and 2nd Half Property Taxes Assessed|
|November 30th||1st Half of Property Taxes Due|
|December 1st||1st Half Delinquent if Not Paid in Full|
|May 31st||2nd Half of Property Taxes Due|
|June 1st||2nd Half Delinquent if Not Paid in Full|
|Last Monday in June (15-17-122 MCA)||Notice of Pending Attachment of Tax Lien First Publication|
Conduct of Attachment of Tax Lien
Prior to attaching a tax lien, the county treasurer shall send notice of the pending attachment of a tax lien to the person to whom the property was assessed. The county treasurer shall attach a tax lien no later than the first working day in August to properties on which the taxes are delinquent and for which proper notification was given. After attaching the tax lien, the county treasurer shall prepare a tax lien certificate. The county treasurer shall file the tax lien certificate with the county clerk and recorder.
Assignment of Tax Lien
**AS OF JANUARY 01, 2023 FLATHEAD COUNTY ASSIGNMENT FEE WILL BE $50.00**
Conduct of Assignment Process:
The county has a tax lien on all parcels upon which the taxes remain delinquent. The record of the property in which the county is listed as the purchaser shall be made by the treasurer by a separate tax lien certificate of each property and by reference to the delinquent tax list. At this time, the assignment process may begin immediately and the list of properties for which the County is the purchaser shall be made available.
Assignments will be determined by a lottery process. The lottery process will consist of a deck of cards, one card will be chosen on behalf of each party. The order will be the highest card to lowest card; aces being low card. The company with the highest card will be the first purchaser of the first assignment.
The party seeking the assignment must provide proof of mailing the Notice of Pending Assignment. Proof must include a copy of the Notice of Pending Assignment sent as well as the certified mailing receipt with a postmark showing the date of mailing as well as the address to which the mailing was sent. The Notice of Pending Assignment must be postmarked at least 2 weeks prior to the date of payment but not earlier than August 15. A certified mailing receipt lacking either an address or a postmark is insufficient proof. If a large number of certified mailings are being sent, the third party can use the United States Postal Service’s manifest mailing system. In this case, we need a copy of the official manifest document.
Assignees must present payment for the exact amount of the delinquency in order to take an assignment, a $50.00 assignment fee per assessor number, a priority list on an excel spreadsheet, copies of the notices sent. and the assignee also needs to provide a W-9 form for any interest earned. If assignments include ”reassignments” or “Jr. Liens” a separate form of payment must be included. Upon document review and verification, an assignment of rights must be prepared and filed with the Clerk and Recorder. The original should be mailed to the assignee and a copy should be maintained by the Treasurer. Additionally, a copy of the assignment of rights must be mailed to the person to whom the taxes were originally assessed, at their address of record together with a statement that the person may contact the Treasurer for further information on lien assignments and property tax lien sales.
Tax lien sales are not final until Flathead County Treasurer’s office has had the opportunity to review the submitted documentation to determine the sufficiency thereof. Due to document review and the volume of liens, Flathead County does not issue Tax Lien Sale Certificates on the date of sale. If all documentation is in order, a Tax Lien Sale Certificate will be issued, a copy of which will be filed with the Clerk and Recorder and the original delivered to the purchaser
References & Definitions
Tax Due Date
If one of the due dates falls on a holiday or a weekend, the taxes may be paid without penalty and interest on or before 5 p.m. of the next business day. The Flathead County Treasurer will send to the last-known address of each taxpayer a property tax bill 30 days or more before the November 30th due date. If the Treasurer fails to mail the notices more than 30 days prior to November 30th, the taxpayer has 30 days from the postmark of the property tax bill to pay the taxes.
Notice of Pending Attachment of Tax Lien
Notice of pending attachment of tax lien must be first published on or before the last Monday of June and notice must be given as provided in 7-1-2121.
If a third party wishes to purchase a tax assignment certificate, they must have provided written notice to the person to whom the property was assessed at least 2 weeks prior to the date of the payment but not earlier than August 15. The person making the payment shall provide proof of the mailing.
Eligible Redeeming Party
Only certain parties are eligible to redeem a property tax lien. Parties that are eligible to redeem a property tax lien are as follows: (i) owner, (ii) the holder of an unrecorded or improperly recorded interest, (iii) the occupant of the property, or (iv) any interested party by the first working day in August, 3 years after attachment of the tax lien.
The term “cost” for third party purchasers for tax liens includes (i) postage for certified mailings and certified mailings with return receipt requested, (ii) a title search, to the extent necessary to identify interested persons entitled to notice of the pending issuance of a tax deed, (iii) publishing costs for required publications, and (iv) filing cost for proof of notice. The term “cost” for the county means the cost incurred by the county as a result of a taxpayer's failure to pay taxes when due. It includes but is not limited to any actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the county plus the administrative cost of (i) preparing the list of delinquent taxes; (ii) preparing the notice of pending attachment of a tax lien; (iii) assigning the county's interest in a tax lien to a third party; (iv) identifying interested persons entitled to notice of the pending issuance of a tax deed; (v) notifying interested persons; (vi) issuing the tax deed; and (vii) any other administrative task associated with accounting for or collecting delinquent taxes.