Tax Sale and Lien Guidelines


Tax Sale and Lien Guidelines FAQ’s


The tax lien sale provides for the payment of delinquent real property taxes by an investor. The investor receives a registered Certificate of Purchase. The tax on the real property is auctioned in open, competitive bidding based on the least percent of interest to be received by the investor.

Real property taxes that are delinquent from the previous billing cycle are offered at the sale. For example, 2016 taxes will be sold at the February 28nd, 2018 auction. The sale takes place in February of each year.

Parcels with taxes that are subject to sale are available at this site, posted outside our office (General Services Building, 921 Thatcher Blvd., Safford, Arizona) and advertised in the Eastern Arizona Courier (928-428-2560). The parcels are listed by parcel number and include the owner’s name and the delinquent tax amount. Prior year dollar totals may also be listed. An investor is required to acquire by assignment all currently outstanding certificates of purchase that were previously issued on the property. The interest rate for certificates obtained by assignment will not change. The parcel list at this site is updated weekly during February and advertised once in the Eastern Arizona Courier.

The investor is responsible for all research on the tax liens that are available for auction. Tax amounts, assessment information, and GIS maps are available on this website in the parcel information search. Parcel maps are available for purchase from the Assessor’s Office (928-428-2828). In addition, the Treasurer’s Office has a public access terminal that may be used for tax research.

To be eligible to bid, investors must provide the Treasurer’s Office with a completed Bidder Registration Form. The Bidder Registration Form may be sent by mail, fax, e-mail, or returned to our office before the auction begins. Bidder numbers are assigned on the day of the sale.

Parcel numbers will be read in parcel number order. Blocks of parcels may be read. As interest rates are called, the lowest interest rate bid for the tax lien on a parcel will be awarded. Bidders must be present; bids by telephone or mail are not accepted. The sale will continue until all liens are sold or the lack of bidding warrants discontinuing the sale.

The successful bidder will pay the entire amount of taxes, interest, and fees on all outstanding tax years with guaranteed funds by 2:00 p.m. on the day of the sale. Investors who have previously purchased Graham County tax liens may pay by check. All new investors will be required to pay cash, cashier’s check or money order.

The maximum bid is 16% simple interest per annum. The lowest acceptable bid is 0% per annum. The lowest bid will determine the tax lien purchaser and the amount of interest to be paid to the investor at the time the lien is redeemed. Interest will accrue the month following the purchase date.

After the tax sale and the tax liens are awarded or issued to the state, registered Certificates of Purchase are recorded in the Treasurer’s Office. Each certificate is uniquely numbered and describes the real property, date of purchase, name of purchaser, the year of the lien, the interest rate and the amount of the purchase. The interest rate for all state owned liens is 16%. A counter receipt is issued for each lien purchased. This receipt includes the registered Certificate of Purchase number.

On or after June 1, the holder of a tax lien may purchase the current year’s taxes. These taxes are added to the Certificate of Purchase as subsequent taxes. By purchasing the current year’s taxes, the lien holder prevents the taxes from being sold at the next year’s tax sale. For example: an investor owns the 2015 tax lien, purchased in February 2017. If the 2016 taxes are delinquent as of June 1, 2017, the investor may pay the 2016 taxes and prevent those taxes from going to the next tax sale.

The interest earned on subsequent taxes is at the same rate as that of the original certificate. Interest will accrue the month following the purchase date.

Assignments offer the investor an alternative way to purchase liens on parcels at a time other that the Tax Lien Sale.

Parcels that are not sold at the Tax Lien Sale are assigned to the state with an interest rate of 16% per annum and the registered Certificates of Purchase are recorded in the Tax Lien Records book. These state owned liens are available to investors by assignment. An investor must pay all outstanding Certificates of Purchase on the parcel. Assignment purchases may be made in person or by mail. There is a $10.00 fee for each assignment.

A report listing state owned liens may be reviewed at this site, at the Treasurer’s Office or purchased for $.25 per page (approximately $30.00). The report lists the tax amount and year. The buyer will pay the entire amount of taxes, fees, and interest due at the time of assignment.

If not redeemed, a Certificate of Purchase may be transferred by notarized Affidavit to another person who has a Bidder Identification Form on file with the Treasurer’s Office. There is a $10.00 transfer fee for each Certificate. The Treasurer’s Office does not handle the communication between the two investors, but our office must be notified of the transfer for it to be valid. The Treasurer pays the redeemed taxes to the last Certificate of Purchase holder on record.

As a courtesy, we send a notice when redemptions are made. If a physical Certificate has been issued, it must be returned before the redemption money is paid to the tax lien holder. If the Certificate is registered, the courtesy notice and redemption check is mailed to the investor address on record at the Treasurer’s Office.

It is very important that investors inform the Treasurer’s Office of all address changes. A.R.S. 11-644 states, “A check that is drawn by the County Treasurer that is not presented for payment within one year after the date of issuance is void. A check that is not presented for payment within one year has no further force or effect.”

At any time, a tax lien holder is welcome to call the Treasurer’s Office to check the status of their lien(s).

If a property owner fails to redeem the tax lien, the owner of the tax lien may foreclose the property owner’s right to redeem the lien three years from the date the tax lien was first offered for sale. The foreclosure action is described in Title 42, Article 5 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.

On receiving a certified copy of a judgment foreclosing the right to redeem and a fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) per parcel, the County Treasurer will execute and deliver a deed conveying the property described in the judgment. Once received, the deed must be recorded.

If an investor owned tax lien is not redeemed and the purchaser or the purchaser’s heirs fail to start the action to foreclose within ten years after the last day of the month in which the lien was acquired, the Certificate of Purchase or Registered Certificate expires and the lien is void. (A.R.S. 42-18127)

All tax liens purchased are done so with the full knowledge of the purchaser that there could be outstanding legal reasons, unknown to the Treasurer at the time of the sale that would make the lien unenforceable. Should this occur, the successful bidder may recover the amount he has paid less the non-refundable fees.

Any property advertised which is currently in the name of a public entity is automatically withdrawn from the sale.

In the event of bankruptcy proceedings subsequent to the sale of the lien, there is no guarantee that the purchaser of the tax lien will receive the anticipated interest. The rate of interest may be determined by the United States Bankruptcy Court.

In the event the Board of Supervisors, by resolution, retroactively cancels a property or corrects the valuation or classification of a property, you may not receive the anticipated interest. If the resolution results in increased tax on a property on which you hold an existing lien, the investor will be required to pay the additional amount of tax or the existing lien amount will be refunded without interest.