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

Homeowners in Oregon who don’t pay their property taxes can lose their home to a tax foreclosure. Often, the county will then sell the home to a new owner. If you’re faced with a tax foreclosure in Oregon, you'll get notice before the foreclosure takes place and the opportunity to pay off the delinquent amounts (plus interest and penalties) in order to keep your home.

Oregon Tax Foreclosures in a Nutshell

If your Oregon property taxes are three years delinquent, the county will start the tax foreclosure process (Or. Rev. Stat. § § 312.010, 312.050). The county first prepares a list (called a “foreclosure list”) of all properties subject to foreclosure. It then applies for a judgment with the court and publishes the foreclosure list in a newspaper (Or. Rev. Stat. § 312.040).

Once the court issues a judgment of foreclosure, the redemption period (see below) begins. If you don’t pay off the taxes, interest, fees, and penalties during the redemption period, the tax collector will deed your home to the county (Or. Rev. Stat. § 312.200). At this point, you lose all rights to the property and the county may choose to sell it to a new owner. (Learn about your options if you can't pay the property taxes on your home.)

Notice of the Property Tax Delinquency

After your taxes become delinquent, the local tax collector will mail you a written notice letting you know (among other things):

  • the total amount of taxes that are due and delinquent
  • the rate of interest and applicable penalties, and
  • the date on (or after) that foreclosure proceedings may start (Or. Rev. Stat. § 311.545).

Your annual tax statement will also show the amount of any delinquent taxes along with the taxes for the current year.

Notice of the Tax Foreclosure

Before the tax foreclosure, the county in which your property is located must either:

  • send you notice by both regular and certified mail, or
  • personally serve you notice of the foreclosure (Or. Rev. Stat. § 312.040).

Also, the foreclosure will be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county (Or. Rev. Stat. § 312.040). But it will probably be buried in fine print -- you're not likely to run across it there.

Responding to the Foreclosure

You can file an answer to the foreclosure with any defenses you want to bring up. For example, if you actually paid the taxes, this would be a defense to the foreclosure. You must file your response within 30 days after the foreclosure list is first published (excluding the first day of publication) (Or. Rev. Stat. § 312.070).

How to Stop the Foreclosure

If you don’t have a valid defense, you’ll have to get caught up on what you owe to stop the foreclosure.

How much it costs to stop an Oregon tax foreclosure before publication. Before the foreclosure list is published, you can get your home out of foreclosure by paying the delinquent taxes and interest (Or. Rev. Stat. § 312.110).

How much it costs to stop the foreclosure after publication. After the list is published, you can stop the foreclosure proceeding at any time before the court issues a judgment by paying the delinquent taxes, plus interest and a penalty of 5% of the total amount of taxes and interest charged against the property (Or. Rev. Stat. § 312.110).

Oregon's Redemption Period After a Tax Foreclosure

After the court issues its foreclosure judgment, you get two years to get caught up on the delinquent amounts before you lose your home (Or. Rev. Stat. § 312.120). This is called a redemption period.

What happens when the redemption period ends. When the redemption period expires, the tax collector deeds your home to the county (Or. Rev. Stat. § 312.200). This means you lose ownership of the property.

When the redemption period might be reduced. Your redemption period may be shortened if you damage or abandon (move out of) the home (Or. Rev. Stat. § 312.122). (Learn more in Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Oregon.)

Where to Find Oregon’s Tax Foreclosure Laws

If you want to review Oregon’s tax foreclosure statutes, the citations are: Oregon Revised Statutes § § 312.005 through 312.990.

To find the Oregon Revised Statutes, go to the Oregon State Legislature’s website at www.oregonlegislature.gov. (If you need help finding the statutes, see Nolo’s Legal Research FAQs & Basic Info area.)

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