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

If you don't pay up your delinquent property taxes, the state of Minnesota can claim your home and can sell it to a new owner.

In Minnesota, you might forfeit your home to the state if you don’t pay your property taxes. You will get the opportunity to catch up on the delinquent amounts before this happens. However, if you don't pay up, the state gets your home and can later sell it to a new owner.

Read on to find out how the tax forfeiture process works in Minnesota, what type of notice you’ll receive along the way, and how long you get to save your home (or “redeem” the property) before your home is forfeited to the state.

Summary of the Property Tax Forfeiture Process in Minnesota

In Minnesota, any unpaid property taxes and penalties become delinquent on the first business day in January after the year when the taxes and penalties are due (Minn. Stat. § 279.02). Then, on or before February 15th, the county auditor will file a delinquent tax list with the district court (Minn. Stat. § 279.05). (If you are struggling to pay your property taxes, learn about your options to avoid a tax sale.)

A couple of months later, the court will enter a tax judgment against the parcels on the list for the delinquent amounts due, so long as there aren’t any objections (Minn. Stat. § 279.16). Next, on the second Monday in May, the auditor will “bid in for the state” the amount of all delinquent taxes, penalties, costs, and interest due, which basically sells the property to the state in a tax judgment sale (Minn. Stat. § § 280.01, 280.43). This means the state gets an interest in each tax-delinquent property, subject to the redemption period. (The redemption period is explained in more detail below.)

If you don’t pay the delinquent amounts during the redemption period, your property will be forfeited to the state (Minn. Stat. § 280.41). After the forfeiture, the state may (among other options) sell your home at a public auction to the highest bidder (Minn. Stat. § 282.01).

Receiving Notice of the Upcoming Minnesota Tax Judgment

The county auditor will publish a notice about the pending tax judgment in the newspaper and mail a copy to you as well.

Notice by publication. The county must publish a notice and a list of delinquent-tax properties in a newspaper once a week for two weeks. The first publication must be on or before March 20 and the second publication must be at least two weeks later (Minn. Stat. § 279.09).

Notice by mail. On or before March 20, the county auditor will mail a notice and the pertinent portion of the delinquent tax list to you (Minn. Stat. § 279.091).

Redemption Period After the Tax Judgment Sale in Minnesota

After the tax judgment sale to the state, the redemption period begins. During this time frame, you can pay the total delinquent tax amount to avoid losing your home. (This is known as “redeeming” the property.)see

How long you get to redeem the property. The redemption period is typically three years, though this depends on a few factors such as the use and location of the property (Minn. Stat. § 281.17). (Learn more about redeeming your home after a tax judgment sale in Minnesota.)

Notice before the redemption period expires. Before the redemption period expires, the county auditor must send you two notices letting you know when the right to redeem will expire (Minn. Stat. § § 281.22, 281.23).

What happens if you don’t redeem. If you don’t pay the delinquent tax amount before the redemption period expires, your property is forfeited to the state.

How to Look Up Minnesota’s Tax Forfeiture Laws

Minnesota’s laws governing delinquent property tax forfeitures are located in Chapters 279, 280, 281, and 282 of the Minnesota Statutes. You can find a link to the Minnesota Statutes at www.revisor.mn.gov. (If you need help finding the statutes, see Nolo’s Legal Research FAQs & Basic Info area.)

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