Today I want to pick back up on what is becoming a series on Mississippi real estate. As indicated in Mississippi Probate and Real Estate, the issues of real estate and probate law are so intertwined that to be capable in one requires an understanding of the other.
Last week, I looked at the general topic of adverse possession in Mississippi and a Mississippi adverse possession case. This week, I want to look at Mississippi’s tax sale statutes. There seems to be an increased interest in this topic at this time of year, in advance of the tax sales in August. We will begin with a general overview of Mississippi tax liens and tax sales. Tomorrow, we will take a look at a recent Mississippi tax lien case to see how tax sales play out in real life.
A tax sale occurs when there are overdue taxes on real estate. Mississippi tax sales are typically held the last Monday in August and are well-noticed in local newspapers. At the tax sale, the taxes are auctioned by competitive bid using an overbid system. The successful bidder will pay the taxes due for the property. That payment of taxes becomes a lien on the property in favor of the buyer. The buyer is given a tax lien certificate to evidence his claim against the property.
The original owner has two years to “redeem” the property. Redemption occurs when the original owner pays the amount he owed plus any taxes since paid on the property and interest and fees that are charged by the court. If the original owner is unable to redeem the property, the buyer will be given a sales deed at the end of the two-year period.
Mississippi tax sales are fraught with technical formalities. And since they are generally disfavored by the court, failure to comply with the formalities usually results in invalidation of the tax sale. For example, one requirement is that, at the end of the redemption period, the county Chancery Clerk is required to send notice to the original owner that the final sale of the property will take place. Under this statute, the sheriff must make service of notice, and notice must also be sent by registered or certified mail. Failure to give proper notice could be grounds for invalidating the tax sale.
 Miss. Code Ann. § 27-43-3 (Supp. 2009).