CHAPTER 11A. COLLECTION AND ENFORCEMENT OF PROPERTY TAXES.
ARTICLE 2. DELINQUENCY AND METHODS OF ENFORCING PAYMENT.
§11A-2-1. Duty of sheriff to enforce payment of delinquent taxes.
Whenever any taxes become delinquent, it shall be the duty
of the sheriff to take immediate steps to enforce payment by use
of the methods prescribed in sections two, three and seven of
§11A-2-2. Collection by civil action; fees and costs not required of sheriff.
(a) Taxes are hereby declared to be debts owing by the taxpayer, for which he or she shall be personally liable. After delinquency, the sheriff may enforce this liability by appropriate action in any court of competent jurisdiction. No such action may be brought after five years from the time the action accrued.
(b) In any such action, the sheriff may prosecute the same without paying fees or costs, and without providing bond or security, as may otherwise be required of civil litigants by the provisions of this code, and shall have all services and process, including the services of witnesses, without paying therefor: Provided, That the sheriff shall maintain for each action for the recovery of delinquent taxes records sufficient to demonstrate the total fees and costs paid and that would have been paid but for the authority provided herein to seek recovery without such payment: Provided, however, That where the sheriff recovers delinquent taxes in or as the result of such action, whether by way of settlement or judgment, such fees and costs as above required to be recorded shall be recoverable from the opposite party and, upon receipt of any recovery, the sheriff shall pay from the amount recovered such fees or costs to the officer who otherwise would have been entitled thereto but for the provisions of this section: Provided further, That the fees and costs shall be paid prior to payment to the various taxing units of the balance of the recovered taxes: And provided further, That the payment to the various taxing units shall be prorated on the basis of the total amount of taxes due them.
(c) The county commission may hire an attorney to prosecute any such action for the collection of such delinquent taxes or to defend the county’s interest in any proceeding before any United States Bankruptcy Court: Provided, That any attorney so hired shall be reimbursed for actual expenses directly incurred in the course of the representation: Provided, however, That in any engagement of any attorney so hired under this section, the county commission shall enter into a written representation agreement with the attorney so engaged, which written representation agreement shall include, in the case of an hourly fee agreement, a cumulative cap of any hourly fees charged on a per-case basis or, in the case of a contingency fee agreement, a percentage cap of any money or things of value recovered in the representation. Any attorney fees or other costs associated with the collection of taxes, not heretofore provided for in subsection (b) of this section, shall be paid from the taxes so collected prior to the distribution to the various taxing units.
The sheriff may, as soon as taxes become delinquent,
distrain any goods or chattels in the county belonging to the
person or to the estate in land assessed with the taxes. If such
goods or chattels are about to be removed from the county, the
sheriff may distrain even before delinquency. Whenever rent
payable by a tenant is a share of the crop, such share only,
whether severed or not, shall be liable to distress for taxes
assessed against the landlord.
§11A-2-4. Abatement of distress.
Whenever by mistake taxes are assessed wholly to one person
or estate on a tract or lot of land, part of which has become the
freehold of another, by a title recorded before July first of the
assessment year, the goods and chattels of the party or estate so
assessed shall not be liable to distraint for more than a due
proportion of such taxes.
§11A-2-5. Distraint of encumbered property.
No trust deed, mortgage or sale of goods and chattels shall
prevent their being distrained for all taxes assessed against the
grantor or former owner thereof, while such goods and chattels
remain in his possession; nor shall such deed, mortgage or sale
prevent their being distrained for taxes assessed on such goods
and chattels, no matter in whose possession they may be found.
§11A-2-6. Distraint where land lies in more than one county.
Where taxes are assessed on land lying partly in one county
and partly in another, the sheriff of the county in which the
taxes are so assessed may distrain goods or chattels on that part
of the land lying in the other county.
§11A-2-7. Summary procedure for collection out of money due from
or property held by another.
Whenever there is any person who is now indebted to, or who,
as tenant, lessee or otherwise, will for any rent, issue, delay
rentals, gas well rentals, or royalties of any kind, in the
future become indebted to, or who has in his possession property
belonging to, any delinquent taxpayer, the sheriff may make
written application to such person demanding payment of the taxes
out of such money as is now or may become due, or out of the
property. No person so applied to shall make any payment or
deliver any of the property to the delinquent taxpayer until the
taxes are paid. From the time of the making of such application
the taxes shall constitute a lien on any such money now or to
become due from the person applied to and on such property held
by him. The sheriff shall endorse upon the application the time
and the place application was made and shall file it for record
with the clerk of the county court.
Upon the failure of any person to comply with the
application, the sheriff may serve such person with a notice in
writing to appear and answer for his failure before a court of
competent jurisdiction. The notice shall designate the court
before which he is to appear, and shall state the time for such
appearance, which time shall not be less than ten days after
service of the notice, the name of the delinquent taxpayer and
the amount of the delinquency.
The sheriff shall endorse the time and place of service on
the original of such notice, and shall file it with the court designated therein. If the person served does not appear,
judgment shall be entered against him in favor of the sheriff for
the amount of taxes due, with costs of the proceeding. If he
does appear, the court, upon proof that he was a person to whom
application might properly be made, shall render judgment against
him for the amount of taxes due, with costs of the proceeding,
which judgment shall be payable only out of the money which is
now or is to become due to the delinquent taxpayer or out of
property held for him. Appeals and writs of error shall lie as
in other cases.
Payment of the taxes, in whole or in part, by the person
applied to, whether made upon application only or made toward
satisfaction of a judgment against him, shall entitle him to a
credit on any obligation he may owe the delinquent taxpayer, or
to a charge against any property held for the taxpayer, and to a
first lien on any such property, for the amount paid, unless he
was by an express contract bound to pay the taxes.
§11A-2-8. Remedies against vendee in possession without deed.
Any purchaser in possession of land, whether or not he has
obtained a deed therefor, shall be personally liable for the
taxes assessed against the land after he obtained possession,
unless the vendor has expressly contracted to pay the taxes
himself. The sheriff may collect from the purchaser by any of
the methods provided for in this article.
§11A-2-9. Remedies of sheriff paying over taxes not collected.
If the sheriff has paid into the treasury of the state, or
of any county or municipality, taxes due from any person before
they were collected by him, he may in order to reimburse himself
collect from such person by any of the methods provided for in
this article, but he shall not be subrogated to the state's lien
for such taxes.
§11A-2-10. Sale of tax liens on real estate.
In addition to the methods for the collection of taxes
provided for in this article, tax liens on real estate may be sold
for the taxes assessed thereon in the manner prescribed in article
three of this chapter.
§11A-2-10a. Notice of delinquency.
On or after April first of each year, the sheriff may prepare
and publish a notice stating in effect that the taxes assessed for
the previous year have become delinquent, and that unless paid by
April thirtieth will be included for publication in the forthcoming
delinquent lists, which notice, if published, shall be published as
a Class II-O legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions
of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this code, and the
publication area for such publication shall be the county.
WVC 11 A- 2 - 11
§11A-2-11. Delinquent lists; oath.
The sheriff, after ascertaining which of the taxes assessed in
his or her county are delinquent, shall, on or before the first day
of May next succeeding the year for which the taxes were assessed,
prepare the following delinquent lists, arranged by districts and
alphabetically by name of the person charged, and showing in
respect to each the amount of taxes remaining delinquent on April
thirtieth: (1) A list of property in the landbook improperly
entered or not ascertainable; (2) a list of other delinquent real
estate; and (3) a list of all other delinquent taxes: Provided,
That the list shall conclude with a notice, substantially as
follows: "Any person holding a West Virginia business registration
certificate under the authority of article twelve, chapter eleven
of this code who does not pay all delinquent personal property
taxes shall have his or her license to do business in this state
suspended until the delinquency is cured."
The sheriff on returning each list shall, at the foot thereof,
subscribe an oath, which shall be subscribed before and certified
by some person duly authorized to administer oaths, in form or
effect as follows:
I, ........, sheriff (or deputy sheriff or collector) of the
County of ........., do swear that the foregoing list is, to the
best of my knowledge and belief, complete and accurate, and that I
have received none of the taxes listed therein.
Except for the oath, the auditor shall prescribe the form of the delinquent lists.
§11A-2-12. Penalty for inclusion of taxes paid in delinquent
If a sheriff shall include in one of the delinquent lists
any taxes which have been collected by him, he shall forfeit to
the person named in the list, if the return was by design, ten
times the amount of the taxes so collected, or if the return was
by mistake, twice the amount.
WVC 11 A- 2 - 13
§11A-2-13. Publication and posting of delinquent tax lists.
A copy of each of the delinquent lists shall be posted at the
front door of the courthouse of the county at least two weeks
before the session of the county commission at which they are to be
presented for examination. At the same time a copy of each list
shall be published as a Class I-O legal advertisement in compliance
with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of this
code, and the publication area for such publication shall be the
county. Only the aggregate amount of the taxes owed by each person
need be published. To cover the costs of preparing, publishing and
posting the delinquent lists, a charge of twenty dollars shall be
added to the taxes and interest already due on each item listed.
Any person whose taxes were delinquent on May first may have
his name removed from the delinquent lists prior to the time the
same is delivered to the newspapers for publication by paying to
the sheriff the full amount of the taxes and costs owed by such
person at the date of such redemption. The sheriff shall collect
a charge of only three dollars if redemption is made before the
list is delivered for publication. Costs collected by the sheriff
hereunder which are not expended for publication shall be paid into
the general county fund.
§11A-2-14. Correction of delinquent lists by county court;
certification to auditor; recordation.
The sheriff shall on or before June fifteenth present the
delinquent lists to the county court for examination. The court
having become satisfied that the lists are correct, or having
corrected them if erroneous, shall direct the clerk of the court
to certify a copy of each list, pertaining to real property, to
the auditor not later than July first. The original lists shall
be preserved by the clerk in his office, and the list of
delinquent real estate shall be recorded in a permanent book to
be kept by him for that purpose.
§11A-2-15. Examination of lists by auditor; credit to sheriff.
It shall be the duty of the auditor to examine each list
pertaining to real property, and if he has reason to believe that
it is erroneous, he shall return it to the county court for
correction, stating his reasons why it should be corrected as to
any person or subject listed therein. The auditor shall credit
the sheriff with all state taxes mentioned in each list.
§11A-2-16. Effect of irregularity as to delinquent lists on
later tax enforcement procedure.
No irregularity, error or mistake in respect to anything
required by this article to be done concerning the delinquent
lists shall invalidate any tax title based upon later tax
enforcement procedure. Nor shall any person be allowed to enjoin
or otherwise question the validity of any subsequent step in the
tax enforcement procedure by reason of such irregularity, error
or mistake, unless he shows that he was actually prejudiced
§11A-2-17. Presumption of payment based on omission from
Whenever a tax is charged to any person or assessed against
any property and the name of the person charged or the property
assessed does not appear in the proper delinquent list, it shall
be presumed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that the
tax so charged or assessed was paid before the time when such
list was required to be made.
WVC 11 A- 2 - 18
§11A-2-18. Redemption before sale; record; lien.
The owner of any real estate returned delinquent, or any other
person entitled to pay the taxes thereon, may redeem at any time
before the close of business on the last business day prior to the
sale provided in the following article by payment of the taxes,
interest and charges due. However, redemption of an undivided
interest included in a group assessment or of part of a tract or
lot the whole of which was assessed in the name of a person other
than the owner shall not be permitted until the applicable
provisions of section nine or of section ten, article one of this
chapter, have been complied with. The sheriff shall give to the
person redeeming a duplicate receipt, one of which shall be filed
with the clerk of the county court, who shall note the fact of such
redemption on his or her record of delinquent lands. Whenever only
part of a tract or lot, or only an undivided interest therein, has
been redeemed, the clerk shall make the necessary changes in his or
her record of delinquent lands before noting the fact of redemption
on the record. Any person redeeming an interest of another shall
be subrogated to the lien of the State on such interest as provided
in section nine, article one of this chapter.
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections four, ten-a,
eleven, thirteen and fourteen of this article, the provisions of
this article as of January first, one thousand nine hundred sixty- one, shall govern delinquency and methods of enforcing payment
of taxes levied upon assessed values as of January first, one
thousand nine hundred sixty-one, or prior years.