Tax Lien: This is when the County asserts a legal interest in land, because the property taxes haven’t been paid. This tax lien attaches at the beginning of August following failure to pay taxes for the previous year.
Tax Lien Certificate: A county treasurer produces this document with the following:
- Property description;
- Property owner;
- Date when a property tax lien was attached to the property;
- Delinquent taxes, penalties, interests, and costs owed; and,
- Date when the county or an assignee (a third party buying the tax lien) will be entitled to a tax deed. Read the law for yourself at MCA § 15-17-125.
Assignment Certificate: After a third party buys the tax lien, the county treasurer sends this certificate to the third party buyer. This certificate assigns to the buyer the county’s interest in the property. The county treasurer must send the landowner a copy of this certificate, and must inform the landowner to contact their office for further information. Read the law for yourself at MCA § 15-17-323.
Redemption Certificate: A county treasurer produces this document when all taxes plus interest, penalty, and costs are paid to the county within the 3 years following the attachment of a tax lien. If the original landowner is the one who redeems the property, then the certificate will be in the name of the landowner.
Tax Deed: This is the deed granted to a person or company who holds an assigned tax lien (and thus has paid all amounts due after the 3 year redemption period). The tax deed is issued to the third party buyer after:
- Payment of amounts due,
- Passage of 3 years after the August when the tax lien attached,
- Application for a tax deed, and
- A public auction.
This deed transfers ownership rights to the property.
Note: This article doesn’t cover all situations or laws. For example, some procedures are different if the property at issue is residential or not, whether the county holds the tax lien, and whether there is a dwelling on the property. Be sure to talk to a lawyer if you have specific questions.