Fulton County received $28,244.27 in turnback funds during 2008, according to Commissioner of State Lands Mark Wilcox. These funds represent funding generated from the redemption and sale of tax delinquent property during 2007. "Whether the land is redeemed or sold, the revenue collections are returned to the county of origin after one year just as though the county had collected the taxes," Wilcox explained.
When property taxes remain delinquent on the county level for a year, Arkansas counties are required by law to certify delinquent real property to the State of Arkansas. The Office of the Land Commissioner then begins its efforts to collect the taxes. If the properties are not redeemed within an additional two-year period, the land becomes eligible for public auction.
"The State Land Office plays a vital role in ensuring that county governments realize stable revenues from their property tax system," said Wilcox. "Our goal is to redeem properties, rather than sell them," he added. Redeemed properties are those in which the original property owner retains ownership by paying the taxes, interest and penalties before the property is sold.
"The State Land Office has increased its efforts in notifying property owners of delinquent taxes," said Wilcox. "Because we do extensive field research and title searches, the property owner may receive as many as five letters prior to a land sale. This is a result of new addresses, new owners, or the property having a lien against it," Wilcox noted. "If we have not received a signed green card at least 60 days prior to a land sale for those properties designated as homesteads, we will hand-serve the owner of record. If there is no one home to receive the notice, we will post it on the owner's door," he said. He pointed out that skip tracing has been a useful and effective tool in finding new addresses of property owners.
Pulaski County received the largest turnback amount totaling $2.6 million in combined redemption and sales turnback, followed by Sebastian County with turnback totaling $499,324.