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October 19, 2017
Magnolia Banner News

COSL Office returns millions to counties

This article was published October 11, 2017 at 11:39 a.m.

Staff Report

Columbia County officials were on hand Tuesday to receive a check for $35,470.60 from Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston, who returned over $18 million to counties across Arkansas last year.

That turnback, totaling $18,244,997.50, was produced by property owners paying delinquent real esstate taxes, and from proceeds in excess of taxes due when the COSL Office sold property.

“Our whole purpose in collecting delinquent real estate taxes, and in selling long-delinquent properties, is to get that funding to the counties where it is owed,” Thurston said. “When we sell properties that have been delinquent for many years, it gets them back onto the county tax rolls, producing income that helps a county with its roads, schools, and emergency services.”

Since Thurston took office in 2011, the COSL has returned almost $119 million to counties across the state. Turnback totals have declined slightly over the past few years, but more properties are returning to county tax rolls, he added.

In the past, bidding at auctions began at the assessed value of the land. A 2013 law changed the opening bid amount to the accrued delinquent taxes and related penalties. Other statutory changes reduced the redemption and litigation periods after a property is sold.

“More people are purchasing property now, since bidding begins lower and the waiting period is shorter,” Thurston said. “Overall, we’re returning more properties to private ownership, which benefits the counties that can now collect annual taxes on those properties.”

Property is certified to the COSL Office when it is two years delinquent. Owners then have two more years to redeem the property before it goes to public auction. If a parcel sells at auction, the owner has 10 business days after the sale to redeem the property. Any parcels not sold at auction are placed on the COSL’s post-auction sales list, where the public can submit offers to purchase.

The COSL Office offers an online Catalog of Tax Delinquent Lands, containing the current statutes govering the sales, auction dates, times, locations, and other pertinent information regarding parcels being offered. The catalog and schedule can be found on the website, which provides current information resources about each parcel.

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