Frequently Asked Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS-Homeowners with delinquent taxes

WHAT IS TAX LIEN FORECLOSURE?

  • Washington State law (RCW 84.64) states when real property becomes three full years delinquent (i.e. if the full year 2016 and/or any prior years are unpaid as of January 2019) the property is noted to be in Pre-Foreclosure and foreclosure avoidance costs are added to the account. A special tax statement with notice is mailed to the Taxpayer of record, about mid-February. If the year(s) of taxes subject to foreclosure are not paid by April 30, 2019, a 30-day ‘MAY NOTICE of FORECLOSURE’ is mailed to the taxpayer along with a tax statement, around May 1, 2019. Additional pre-foreclosure costs are added to the account. The May payment must be by certified funds (cash, money order or cashier check only). If the tax year(s) making the account subject to foreclosure isn’t paid before June 1, 2019, the County Treasurer will file a Certificate of Delinquency (in book form) against all property with that three year delinquent property taxes. At that point, those property are now in TAX FORECLOSURE, and payment amount and parties that can pay the taxes are limited by state law. There are foreclosure costs over $1,200 added to the property, and at this point, and up until the day before the sale, the Taxpayer/Owner and lienholders must pay ALL THE YEARS TAXES, interest, penalty and costs to redeem (save) the property from being auctioned off at the December sale, which in 2019 would mean the full 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019 property taxes and charges (and any prior years).

WHEN IS THE LAST DAY I CAN PAY THE TAXES AND REDEEM (SAVE) IT FROM FORECLOSURE?

  • If you are wanting to avoid TAX FORECLOSURE (the filing of the Certificate of Delinquency against your property), you must pay the 2016 (and any prior years) property taxes in full by May 31, 2019. NOTE-payments made January 1 to April 30, 2019 may be on-line, debit card, credit card, checks, cash, and money order. PAYMENTS MADE between May 1-31, 2019 MUST BE in the office by May 31, and MUST be cash, money order or cashier check ONLY-you MAY NOT pay on-line or by credit card!
  • If you are paying between June and the December sale, you are IN FORECLOSURE and MUST contact the Snohomish County Treasurer’s office-Foreclosure first. 425 388-3606 State law allows you to pay, right up to the day before the sale, but you will be paying ALL the years’ taxes, and all accrued interest, penalty and foreclosure costs of over $1,600 by the time Dec 1, 2019 comes around. THE 2019 sale date is not set yet, but is usually the 1st Wednesday of December.

DO I HAVE TO PAY THE FULL AMOUNT DUE OR CAN I MAKE PAYMENTS/PARTIAL PAYMENTS?

  • You cannot make partial payments, and we cannot accept a payment plan for delinquent taxes. Once due, the full year tax, with applicable interest and penalty and costs must be paid, as one payment. Please contact the Snohomish County Foreclosure Dept. for more information, and to verify amounts due, BEFORE making payment on any property in Foreclosure.

WHAT CAN I DO IF I AM HAVING A HARD TIME PAYING TAXES?

  • Property taxes are a first-priority lien, and must be paid. We do not have payment plan options, and we must, by law, foreclosure if the delinquent taxes subject your property to tax foreclosure.
  • IF YOU ARE A SERVICE MEMBER ON ACTIVE DUTY IN MILITARY SERVICE OR THE DEPENDANT OF AN ACTIVE DUTY SERVICE MEMBER-contact the Treasurer’s office IMMEDIATELY 425 388-3606, for application for relief under the Federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. 
  • IF YOU OWN/ARE BUYING A RESIDENCE, ARE 61 YEARS OR OLDER, OR RETIRED BECAUSE OF DISABILITY, AND LIVE IN THE RESIDENCE, and all parties living in the residence have a combined annual income of $40,000 OR LESS, contact the Assessor’s office IMMEDIATELY 425 388-3433-option 2-Exemptions for application for a Property Tax Exemption. You will need to provide them with verification information for this state program, and the process to get approved is timely, so DO NOT DELAY! EXEMPTIONS do not usually remove ALL the taxes, but may lower them to an amount that you can get paid. Having an Exemption will not automatically remove you from Foreclosure, but will help lower the taxes that need to be paid.
  • If you have a mortgage (but not an escrow account with them for the taxes) contact your mortgage right away. They would find out about the delinquent property taxes when we send them certified mail during the foreclosure process, and you may want to discuss options with them, before that happens.
  • You own the property up until the date of Tax Sale. You may sell it, or borrow against it, or any other legal recourse you would normally have as a homeowner. You should seek legal advice on the effect delinquent taxes may have on selling property. Properties will not be ‘held out’ or ‘pulled’ from the tax sale due to pending property transfers.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T GET THE TAXES PAID AND MY PROPERTY IS SOLD AT TAX AUCTION?

  • You will have been notified many times over the course of 2019 if your property is in Tax Lien Foreclosure. If the taxes are delinquent on the sale date, it will be sold at an on-line auction to the highest bidder. The minimum bid would be for what Snohomish County needs to cover all the taxes, interest, penalty and foreclosure costs. If the highest bidder pays more than that amount, the overage/surplus money is called “Excess Funds”, and will be given to the ‘Record Title Holder’-the person who held the legal title/deed to the property on the day of the filing of the Certificate of Delinquency (in June 2019). This process is mandated by state law. These funds are available for three years from the date of sale. Excess Funds payment will ONLY go to the Record Title Holder, through a complete verification process that can take 6 months or more. The Internal Revenue Service may have federal liens that may be to be satisfied before release of money to the Record Title Holder, for more information contact the Snohomish County Foreclosure Dept. The high bidder who bought your property will need to contact you, and follow whatever state regulations for assuming control on their property. Snohomish County cannot advise you, or them, as to what the regulations are. It is advised to seek legal advice for information about your rights.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS-POTENTIAL BUYERS

DOES SNOHOMISH COUNTY SELL TAX LIENS OR TAX CERTIFICATES?

  • No. Washington State is not a tax lien state. You cannot pay someone’s taxes and file a lien against property. You cannot purchase property in Foreclosure from Snohomish County before the sale. You must register and be high bidder at the December sale, if you wish to purchase ‘Tax Lien Foreclosure’ property. If you purchase property at the Snohomish County Tax auction, you will be issued a Tax Deed for the property, which will give you all the rights that a Tax Deed offers. DO YOUR RESEARCH-Tax Deeds are different from other types of deeds, and Snohomish County cannot give you advice on the difference.

CAN I BE ON A MAILING LIST? DO YOU HAVE LISTS OF ‘DELINQUENT’ PROPERTY TAXES?

  • We do not have a mailing list. See the Treasurer webpage titled ‘Requests for Foreclosure Information’, for information on ‘lists’.

WHEN IS THE NEXT TAX LIEN FORECLOSURE AUCTION?

  • See the Treasurer webpage titled ‘Tax Lien Foreclosure’.

WHAT ARE THE RULES TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TAX AUCTION?

  • The Terms of Sale will be available the 1st part of November, when the list of properties and minimum bids are placed on the web site Bid4Assets.com, where the December Tax Lien Foreclosure auction will take place.

I HEARD A PROPERTY IS GOING FOR AUCTION THIS FRIDAY-CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

  • Any property that is going to ‘Foreclosure’ on a FRIDAY is NOT a Snohomish County Tax Lien Foreclosure property. See the Treasurer webpage titled ‘Tax Lien Foreclosure’ for more information on Trustee Sales and Sheriff Sales.

CAN I BUY A PROPERTY THAT DOESN’T SELL AT YOUR TAX LIEN FORECLOSURE AUCTION? IS THERE A LIST OF PROPERTY NOT SOLD?

  • The ‘Return of Sale’ PDF on the ‘Requests for Foreclosure Information’ webpage lists all property ‘sold’ at Tax Sale. That includes all property transferred to Snohomish County, which is considered a bidder at the tax sale, if no one else bids. Those ‘unsold’ properties become Snohomish County Tax Title Properties. To discuss any ‘possible’ purchase of those properties, you must contact Property Management. Before you do, please review their web page for more information regarding TAX TITLE PROPERTY https://www.snohomishcountywa.gov/358/Property-Management-Division