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Mississippi real estate taxes are paid in arrears and become due in January of each year. They are considered delinquent if not paid prior to the first of February by the owner or a party having interest in the property.1 If, however, they are not paid, Mississippi law authorizes taxing authorities to sell the delinquent property tax obligations to the highest bidder at public auction.
At auction, the successful bidder receives a tax certificate (receipt) for the property. The certificate grants its holder a priority lien on the underlying property without the right of possession.2 However, if at anytime prior to the expiration of the redemption period, the original owner pays in full all taxes, interest and penalties that are due, the clerk will issue a tax sale release that relinquishes all interest that the tax purchaser and/or government entity may have previously held in said property.3 The tax certificate purchaser's right to obtain a tax deed conveyance to the property is subject only to the original owner, or parties in interest, redeeming the delinquent tax prior to the expiration of the redemption period. 4
So let's review the process leading up to the issuance of a tax deed. After a tax lien is purchased, one of two things will happen. First and most likely, the tax lien certificate will be redeemed before the expiration of the redemption period. The statutory redemption period expires two years from the date of the tax sale.5 In the second, and most unlikely scenario, the property is not redeemed and the statutory redemption period expires.
At that point, the tax purchaser will, upon request, receive a city or county tax deed, depending on which taxing authority conducted the initial tax certificate auction. Expiration of the redemption period confers the right of possession. Moreover, the issuance of a tax deed is conclusive evidence of the purchaser's right in the property, but is not necessary to enjoy possession. From the time the redemption period expires, the purchaser has all the authority and rights of any other landowner, including the right to immediately possess the property.6 Therefore, a holder of a valid tax deed can use any legal remedy to evict occupants as well as to protect and secure his or her legal rights and interest in and to the tax deed property.
In the event that both a city and county tax deed is issued on property for the same year of unpaid property taxes, the general rule is that a properly issued county tax deed would take precedence over a city tax deed.
1Miss. Code Ann. § 27-41-59
2Miss. Code Ann. § 27-41-75
3Miss. Code Ann. § 27-45-3
4Miss. Code Ann. § 27-41-79
5Miss. Code Ann. § 27-45-3; 27-41-81
6Miss. Code Ann. § 27-45-23
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