What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Kentucky?

If you become delinquent in paying your property taxes in some parts of Kentucky, you might lose your home to a tax foreclosure.

By , Attorney University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Updated 7/24/2023

If you have delinquent property taxes in Kentucky, you might lose your home to tax foreclosure. In other parts of the state, the tax lien itself is sold, and the purchaser gets a tax lien certificate. After some time passes, the certificate purchaser can foreclose. The home is then sold at a foreclosure sale.

Either way, you'll get some time either before or, in some limited situations, after the foreclosure sale, in which you can pay off the debt and keep your home. But if you fail to do so, you'll eventually lose ownership of the property.

How Property Taxes Work

People who own real property must pay property taxes. The government uses the money that these taxes generate to pay for schools, public services, libraries, roads, parks, and the like. Typically, the tax amount is based on a property's assessed value.

If you have a mortgage on your home, the loan servicer might collect money from you as part of the monthly mortgage payment to later pay the property taxes. The servicer pays the taxes on the homeowner's behalf through an escrow account.

But if the taxes aren't collected and paid through this kind of account, the homeowner must pay them directly.

What Are the Consequences of Not Being Able to Pay Taxes in Kentucky?

When homeowners in Kentucky don't pay their property taxes, the overdue amount becomes a lien on the property. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 91.560). A lien effectively makes the property collateral for the debt.

All states, including Kentucky, have laws that allow the local government to sell a home through a tax sale process to collect delinquent taxes. In Kentucky, you might face a tax lien foreclosure or lose your home after a tax lien certificate sale.

How Kentucky Tax Lien Foreclosures Work

In some places in Kentucky, if you don't pay your property taxes, the collector can file a lawsuit to enforce the tax lien. The home is sold, usually at a public auction, as part of the process. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 91.487).

When the court confirms the sale after the redemption period (see below), the purchaser from the sale gets a deed (title) to the property and becomes the new owner. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 91.514).

Notice of a Tax Lien Foreclosure in Kentucky

The collector must mail you a notice within 30 days after filing the suit. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 91.4884). The collector will also publish a notice about the action in a newspaper. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 91.4883).

Redemption Period Before the Tax Lien Foreclosure Sale

Under Kentucky law, you get the right to pay off the debt (redeem) the property at any time before the foreclosure sale takes place. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 91.4884, 91.511).

When You Can Redeem After a Kentucky Tax Lien Foreclosure Sale

You'll also get the right to redeem within 60 days after the sale if the purchase price is less than the home's assessed value. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 91.4884, 91.511).

How Kentucky Tax Lien Certificate Sales Work

If you don't pay your property taxes in other parts of Kentucky, the county clerk may sell the tax lien that's on the home. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134.128).

The purchaser buys a tax lien certificate (a "certificate of delinquency") at the sale and can eventually foreclose on the home to collect the amounts due. At the end of the foreclosure process, the property is sold at a foreclosure sale. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134.546).

Notice of a Tax Lien Certificate Sale in Kentucky

Two notices of the delinquency are mailed before the certificate sale. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134.504). Notice about the certificate sale is also published in a newspaper. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134.128).

After the certificate sale, the purchaser who bought the certificate must mail you a notice within 50 days after the clerk delivers the certificate of delinquency to that third-party purchaser and annually thereafter until the notice described below is sent. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134.490).

Notice of Foreclosure in Kentucky

If the third party, state, county, or taxing district gets the certificate and later decides to foreclose, notice must be mailed to you within 45 days before starting a foreclosure. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134.490).

Redemption Period Before the Foreclosure

The purchaser can't start a lawsuit to foreclose until one year after the date the taxes became delinquent. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134.546). You can redeem the home during this one-year period.

When You Can Redeem After the Sale

You also get an additional redemption period if the property is sold for less than the assessed value. If the property sold for less than two-thirds of its appraised value at the sale, the additional redemption period is six months. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 134.546, 426.530).

If the state, county, or taxing district forecloses the lien, the property may be redeemed at any time before the master commissioner gives a deed to the purchaser. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 134.549).

How Much You'll Have to Pay to Redeem Your Kentucky Home

To redeem the home, you'll have to pay the total taxes, interest, penalties, and costs due (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 91.511, 134.546, 426.530).

Getting Help

If you're already facing a tax foreclosure in Kentucky and have questions (or need help redeeming your property), consider talking to a foreclosure lawyer, tax lawyer, or real estate lawyer.

Talk to a Foreclosure attorney.
We've helped 75 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you