Last week, Illinois’s First District Court of Appeals, which maintains jurisdiction over cases heard in Cook County, issued an important decision regarding the manner in which the redemption of delinquent real estate taxes must be undertaken.
In the case, In re Application of the County Treasurer, 2013 IL App (1st) 130103 (November 8, 2013) Cook Co., the appellant, Salta Group, Inc. (“Salta”), bought the delinquent real estate taxes from 2006 on a parcel of real estate located in Cook County in August of 2008. Later that year, Salta filed a notice under Section 22-5 of the Property Tax Code, stating that the property owner would have until February 12, 2011 to redeem the taxes.
Under Illinois law, after a property’s delinquent real estate taxes are sold to a third-party, the owner of the property on which the taxes are owed has a redemption period of two and a half years to redeem the property by paying the delinquent taxes along with any penalties and interest. Before the expiration of the redemption period, the owner of the delinquent taxes may file a petition to obtain a tax deed against the property in the event the property owner fails to redeem. A tax deed gives the owner of the delinquent taxes title to the property free and clear of any liens.
In order to obtain a tax deed, the tax holder must issues various notices, one of which is a notice, under section 22-25, that is mailed out by the clerk to the owners of the property and indicates the last day on which the property owner can redeem.
In the instant case, Salta’s Section 22-5 indicated that the last day the property owner could redeem was February 12, 2011, which fell on a Saturday. The property owner never attempted to redeem the taxes and, in August of 2011, Salta petitioned for a tax deed. In July of 2012, Salta’s petition was denied because the redemption date on the Section 22-5 notice was listed as a Saturday, rather than the following Monday. Illinois law states that, if the last day to perform an act falls on a weekend or holiday, the time in which said act may be performed is extend to the next business day.
Salta appealed the denial of the tax deed on a number of grounds, but, ultimately, the First District Court of Appeals held that the decisions to deny Salta’s petition was correct. In so holding, the Appeals Court opined that, “Section 22-5 of the Property Tax Code imposes a minimal burden on tax purchasers to provide parties with an interest in property the correct notice regarding the exact due date when the redemption period expires …” and therefore Salta’s error was not excusable.
As demonstrated by the circumstances presented by this case, tax provisions can be very complex and, as discussed, play a significant role in the sale and purchase of real estate within the State of Illinois. If you have questions regarding Illinois or Cook County tax provisions, contact the experienced real estate attorneys at The Slater Firm, Ltd. today.