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

Your Louisiana property, or a portion of it, could be sold at a tax sale to pay off a delinquent tax bill.

In Louisiana, failing to pay your property taxes will lead to a tax sale. At the auction, your property or a portion of it will be sold to pay off the delinquent tax bill. But the winning bidder from the sale doesn't get full ownership of your home right away; you'll get some time to get caught up on the overdue amounts before this happens. But you'll eventually lose ownership of the property permanently if you don't pay off the debt during what's called a "redemption period" after the sale.

In this article, you'll find out more about how the tax sale process works in Louisiana, what kind of notice you'll get about an impending tax sale, how long you have to pay off the taxes after the sale before you actually lose your property, and more.

What Is a Property Tax Lien?

People who own real property have to pay property taxes. The government uses that tax money to pay for schools, public services, libraries, roads, parks, and the like. The tax amount is generally based on the assessed property value.

But when a homeowner doesn't pay the property taxes, the overdue amount becomes a lien on the home. A lien effectively makes the property act as collateral for the debt.

What Happens If You Don't Pay Property Taxes?

Louisiana, like all other states, has a process that allows the taxing authority to sell a property to collect delinquent taxes. (Learn about your options to avoid a tax sale if you can't keep up with the property taxes.)

How Louisiana Tax Sales Work

In Louisiana, tax sales occur annually, typically in May or June. Under Louisiana law, the sale may consist of a "bid down" process in which the collector sells the least amount of the property that someone will buy for the full amount due with bidding starting at 100% of the property. Bidding may continue down to 1%. As an alternative, upon agreement between the tax collector and the local governing authority, a bidder may elect to bid down the redemption penalty rate. (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 47:2153). (The purchaser can elect to bid down the 5% penalty that you'll have to pay if you want to get your home back after the sale. This penalty rate is covered in more detail below.)

After the sale, the tax collector will file a tax sale certificate in the public records. (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 47:2155). The tax sale certificate transfers what's called "tax sale title" only, which means the buyer gets limited ownership of the property subject to the right of redemption (see below). (A tax sale certificate in Louisiana is basically the same as a tax deed, as described in the Louisiana Constitution.)

Notice of the Tax Sale

Before the sale, the tax collector must provide notice by mail and publication.

Notice By Mail

No later than the first Monday of February of each year, or as soon thereafter as possible, the collector will mail you (the taxpayer) a notice saying that you must get caught up on the delinquent amounts within 20 days or before the tax sale is scheduled. Otherwise, the parish or other political subdivision will proceed with a tax sale and sell the property to a new owner. (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 47:2153).

A tax sale is still valid—even if you don't receive actual notice of the sale—if the collector demonstrates a reasonable and diligent effort to provide notice of the sale. (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 47:2153).

Notice By Publication

At least 20 days after sending you the written notice, the collector must publish notice about the sale two times within 30 days in an official journal, such as a newspaper. (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 47:2153).

How to Stop the Sale From Happening in Louisiana

You can stop the sale from taking place by paying the amounts due at any time up until the day before the actual sale. (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 47:2153).

How Long You Get to Redeem the Property After a Louisiana Tax Sale

"Redeeming" the property means paying off the debt to get full ownership back after a tax sale. In Louisiana, you generally get three years after the date the tax sale certificate was recorded to redeem your property. (La. Const. Art. VII, § 25). But under some circumstances, the redemption period is shorter. (Learn more in Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Louisiana.)

To redeem, you must pay the price the purchaser paid for the property at the sale, plus costs, a 5% penalty—or less if the purchaser has bid down the penalty rate at the sale—and 1% interest per month. (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 47:2153).

After three years, the purchaser can file a lawsuit to quiet the title, which provides the purchaser with clear title and full ownership of the property. (La. Const. Art. VII, § 25).

Talk to a Foreclosure Lawyer

If you have questions about property tax sale laws in Louisiana, consider talking to a foreclosure lawyer, tax lawyer, or a real estate lawyer.

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