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Deed transfers will be denied if back taxes owed on property

Property owners who owe back county taxes won’t be able to transfer the deed to that property to another owner anymore.

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously this week to take advantage of a state statute that allows the county register of deeds to not “accept any deed transferring real property for registration unless the county tax collector has certified that no delinquent ad valorem county taxes, ad valorem municipal taxes, or other taxes with which the collector is charged are a lien on the property described in the deed,” according to the statute.

“It’s a good thing — it’s an extra step for us to collect taxes. It keeps people from transferring property if they’ve got outstanding taxes on them,” said county Manager Brian Alligood. “It’s another step to make sure delinquent taxes get paid.”

The one exception, Alligood said, is if a property is being transferred to another party, a closing attorney can submit a statement saying he or she prepared the deed and will be responsible for paying delinquent taxes to the county tax collector at closing.

Commissioner Hood Richardson pointed out, for the record, that the statute does not prevent property owners from drawing up their own deeds.

Alligood said without this policy decision, if a property with back taxes owed on it was transferred to another owner, the county tax collection office was left with the difficult task of getting payment from the person who no longer owned the property, but still owed the taxes.

Beaufort County is one of 86 counties the statute applies to across the state. The policy will go into effect May 1.

“That gives us time to let everyone know about it,” Alligood said.