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

If you fail to pay your property taxes in Indiana you could lose your home in a tax sale.

If you are delinquent in paying the property taxes on your Indiana home, you may lose it to a tax sale. You will get some time after the sale to pay off the debt (plus some other amounts). This way you can keep your home and prevent the new owner from getting title. Keep reading to learn about the tax sale process in Indiana, how you’ll find out about a tax sale, how long you get to reclaim your home back if the sale takes place, and more.

How Tax Sales Work in Indiana

In Indiana, your property is eligible to be sold at a tax sale when the prior year’s spring installment (or before) of property taxes becomes delinquent (Ind. Code § 6-1.1-24-1). (In Indiana, property taxes are due in the spring and fall.)

Tax sale process. In order to sell your home at a tax sale, the county auditor and treasurer must ask a court for a judgment. If you don’t have a defense, the court will order a sale and the treasurer will sell your home at a public auction to the highest bidder, subject to your right of redemption (see below) (Ind. Code § § 6-1.1-24-2, 6-1.1-24-5).

(If you are struggling to pay your property taxes, learn about your options to avoid a tax sale.)

Notice Before the Tax Sale Takes Place

Before the sale, the county auditor must provide notice by mail, publication, and posting (Ind. Code § 6-1.1-24-3).

Notice by mail. The auditor must mail you a notice by certified mail and, if the certified mail is returned unsigned, by regular mail, not less than 21 days before applying for a judgment and order for sale from the court (Ind. Code § 6-1.1-24-4).

Notice by posting and publication. The auditor must also post a copy of the notice at the county courthouse (or in another public county building) and publish the notice in a newspaper for three weeks (Ind. Code § 6-1.1-24-3).

How to Stop the Indiana Tax Sale

You can stop the tax sale from taking place by paying all delinquent taxes, special assessments, penalties due on the delinquency, interest, and costs (Ind. Code § 6-1.1-1.2).

What Happens at an Indiana Tax Sale

If you don’t get caught up on the amounts you owe, your property will be sold to the highest bidder. The winning bid must be at least the amount of the:

  • delinquent taxes and special assessments
  • taxes and special assessments due and payable the year of the sale
  • penalties, and
  • costs (Ind. Code § 6-1.1-24-5).

In some cases, when the county where the property is located has adopted a particular ordinance, the home cannot be sold for an amount that is less than the lesser of:

  • the total of the amounts shown above or
  • 75% of the gross assessed value of the property, as determined on the most recent assessment date (Ind. Code § 6-1.1-24-5).

Your Right of Redemption After the Tax Sale

At the auction, your home will be sold to a new owner, subject to your right of redemption. This means that after the sale you get a certain amount of time in which to pay off the debt (plus various other amounts) so that you can keep your home. This time period is called a "redemption" period.

How long is the redemption period after a tax sale in Indiana? In Indiana, in most cases, the homeowner gets one year after the sale to pay the redemption amount and reclaim the home following the sale (Ind. Code § 6-1.1-25-4). If you don’t redeem, the purchaser can apply to the court to get a tax deed (title) to your home.

How much is the redemption amount? The amount you have to pay depends on whether you redeem in the first six months or the last six months of the redemption period. (Learn more about how much it costs to redeem your home after a tax sale in Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Indiana.)

Where to Look Up Indiana’s Tax Sale Laws

You can find the statutes that govern Indiana tax sales in the Indiana Code. Go to the Indiana General Assembly’s website at http://iga.in.gov to find a link to the Code. The relevant statutes are found mainly in Title 6, Article 1.1, Chapter 24, § § 6-1.1-24-1 through 6-1.1-24-15. (If you have difficulty finding the statutes, see Nolo’s Legal Research FAQs & Basic Info area.)

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