What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Georgia

If you are delinquent on property taxes in Georgia, you'll lose your home in a tax sale.

If you are delinquent on property taxes on your Georgia home, you may lose it to a tax sale. Keep reading to learn about how Georgia tax sales work, what type of notice you’ll receive before a tax sale, how you can reclaim ownership of the home after the sale, and more.

Tax Sales in Georgia

If you get behind in paying your real property taxes in Georgia, the past-due amount automatically becomes a lien on your home when those taxes come due. If you pay the taxes, the lien dissolves. However, if you don’t pay the amount due, the sheriff may eventually:

  • hold a tax sale (called a “nonjudicial tax sale”), or
  • foreclose the lien in court and then sell the home.

This article focuses on nonjudicial tax sales, since that is the most common type of tax sale process in Georgia. (If you are struggling to pay your property taxes, learn about your  options to avoid a tax sale.)

Notice Before the Nonjudicial Tax Sale Takes Place

Before the sale, you'll get three notices. The sheriff must also publish notice in a newspaper (Ga. Code Ann. § 48-4-1).

Notices you’ll receive.  If you don’t pay the taxes, you'll get a letter from the tax collector stating that you are behind and giving you 30 days to get caught up (Ga. Code Ann. § 48-3-3).

If you don't pay, you’ll get a notice by personal delivery, registered mail, or overnight delivery 20 days before the sheriff publishes notice of the sale in a newspaper (Ga. Code Ann. § § 48-3-9, 48-3-10).

Then, you’ll get one more notice by registered or certified mail or overnight delivery ten days before the sale (Ga. Code Ann. § 48-4-1(a)(1)).

The Nonjudicial Tax Sale

At the sale, the sheriff sells the home to the highest bidder. If no one bids an amount sufficient to cover the past-due amounts including costs, the county may bid and purchase the home (Ga. Code Ann. § 48-4-20).

After the sale, the high bidder (the purchaser) gets a deed to the home, subject to your right of redemption (Ga. Code Ann. § § 48-4-6, 48-4-40).

Your Right of Redemption After the Tax Sale

After the sale, you get a certain amount of time to reimburse the purchaser for the amount paid at the sale (plus various other amounts) in order to get your house back. This is called the right of redemption.

In Georgia, you get 12 months after the sale (and up until the purchaser terminates your right of redemption) to pay the purchase price, plus some additional amounts, and reclaim your home following the sale (Ga. Code Ann. § 48-4-40). (Learn more about how to redeem your home after the tax sale in  Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Georgia.)

How to Look Up Georgia’s Tax Sale Laws

You can locate the statutes that govern Georgia tax sales in the Georgia Code at  www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/gacode. The relevant statutes are found in Title 48, Chapters 3 and 4, § § 48-3-1 through 48-3-29 and 48-4-1 through 48-4-81. (If you need help finding the statutes, see Nolo’s  Legal Research FAQs & Basic Info  area.)

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