Glossary of terms
ad valorem tax — according to value. A tax that is imposed
on the value of property, real or personal.
calendar week — a block of seven days registered on the
calendar beginning with Sunday and ending with Saturday.
defendant — the person defending or denying; the party
against whom relief or recovery is sought in an action or suit
or the accused in a criminal case.
execution — the process and/or form used for levying on and
selling enough of a delinquent taxpayer’s property to satisfy
execution docket — tax commissioner’s execution docket or
GED in clerk of superior court’s office.
fieri facias (Fi. Fa.) — means that you “cause it to be done.”
A judicial writ directing the sheriff to satisfy a judgment from
the debtor’s property. Applies to personal and real property.
A term used interchangeably with execution.
grantee — the person to whom property is transferred (the
grantor — the person who transfers the property to another
in personam — the legal process directed against a person.
in rem — the legal process directed against property.
levy — the process whereby a sheriff or other state official
empowered by writ or other judicial directive actually seizes,
or otherwise brings within his or her control, a delinquent
taxpayer’s property to satisfy the judgment.
lien — a claim, encumbrance, or charge on a taxpayer’s
property to obtain payment of overdue taxes.
life estate — an estate whose duration is limited to the life of
the party holding it, or some other person. A legal
arrangement whereby the beneficiary (i.e. the life tenant) is
entitled to the income from the property during his or her life.
Upon the death of the life tenant, the property goes to the
person holding the remaining interest, or to the grantor by
nulla bona — the name of the return made by the sheriff to a
writ of execution, when he or she has not found any goods of
the defendant within his or her jurisdiction on which to levy.
quitclaim — the release of a claim.
security deed — a deed pledging property to secure a loan.
statute of limitations — statutes of the federal government
and various states setting maximum time periods during which
certain actions can be brought or rights enforced. After the
time period set out in the applicable statute of limitations has
run, no legal action can be brought regardless of whether any
cause of action ever existed.
tax deed — the deed given upon a sale of real property made
for non-payment of taxes. The deed whereby the officer of the
law undertakes to convey the title of the property to the
purchaser at the tax sale. This is sometimes called a sheriff’s
warranty deed — a deed which conveys the title to property
whereby the seller guarantees the title to be good and
unencumbered except as stated and agrees to defend and
protect the purchaser against any loss that may arise in the
future from any defect in the title at the time of conveyance.
Letter of intent to Fi. Fa.
1. O.C.G.A 48-3-3 (30 day letter of intent
to issue fi. Fa.) This letter must be sent
after the bills have gone delinquent, but
before a tax lien can be issued,
informing the tax payer of the
delinquency and the possibility of a lien
being issued and recorded against
Issue and Record Fi. Fa.
The Tax Commissioner/City Collection
Officer will need to issue and record a
tax lien before any levy can occur.
At this point you will want to consider partial
payments as an option. As the collection
process continues, an administrative decision
will need to be made as how to handle partial
payments. Such as, do you even accept
payments, if so, when shall a cut off period
apply. Payment plans are rarely followed by
the tax payer, but are a good tool to try and
work with them before levy is made.
Determine what to collect on. Make sure
the statute of limitations does not apply.
O.C.G.A. 48-3-21 Any lien older than
seven years from the date the fi. Fa.
could be issued or the last entry upon
O. C. G. A. 48-3-21.1 Any lien less than
$5.00 and over a year old
3. O. C. G. A. 9-12-93 Any lien against real
property in which the purchaser has
been in possession for 4 years or
personal property where the purchaser
has been in possession for 2 years shall
be discharged against the said property.
4. Be careful as not to violate “Excessive
Run a delinquent list and determine
what to levy and how many properties
you can handle without overloading
yourself. As you choose which liens to
collect, make sure it is not a method that
someone could consider discriminatory
in nature. Choosing alphabetically or a
monetary order is commonly practiced.
Make sure you have the proper authority
to collect. A Tax Commissioner must be
sworn in as an Ex-Officio Sheriff
(O.C.G.A. 48-5-137). This also allows
for extra compensation to the Tax
Commissioner as well. The city
Marshall or other authorized officer shall
collect for the city (O.C.G.A. 48-5-359).
Before a valid levy can occur, a title
examination must be performed on the
property intended for collection to
establish who to notify. This involves
checking for current ownership, security
interest, and any other interested parties
that may exist in the chain of title located
the Clerk of Superior Court’s office.
This search will include checking the
Grantor and Grantee Indexes. The
General Execution Docket (GED) for
liens including IRS, state, county, and
city executions. The Lis Pendens for any
law suits (divorce or land line disputes)
involving the subject property for levy.
Now that you have established
interested parties by title exam, time to
locate addresses of individuals and
entities (corporations). Search engines
such as Accurint, telephone books,
Georgia Secretary of State, and FDIC
are just a few of the places to check.
Once you have compiled the interested
parties to notify, the levy can begin.
Time to make entry of levy and notify
O.C.G.A. 9-13-12 requires an entry of levy
be made on the face of the Fi. Fa. by the
levying officer and date. For a levy to be
valid, seizure must occur first. An entry of
levy is considered a constructive seizure on
the subject property.
O. C. G. A. 9-13-13 Notice must be sent
within 5 days of entry to the tenant in
possession and the defendant in fi. fa. by
O. C. G. A. 48-3-9 requires that notice of
levy must be sent to the record owner of
the property and record owner of each
security deed or mortgage holder no
less that 20 days prior to the first week
of advertising. At a minimum, notice
must be sent to the address on the face
of the recorded document. All notices
must be sent certified mail with return
Notice via certified mail to the IRS must
be sent no less than 25 days prior to the
sale (IRS Publication 786). It is common
practice to mail this notice at the same
time as the lien holder notice at
• O. C. G. A. 9-13-140 & 9-13-141
requires advertising the property for sale
4 consecutive weeks prior to the sale
date. A calendar week runs Sunday to
• O. C. G. A. 9-13-143 states rates for
• The ad needs to include names, years,
& legal description. Street address may
be used as well.
O.C.G.A. 48-4-1 requires notice be sent
one last time to the defendant in fi. fa.,
current owner of record, and any
governing jurisdictions that may have a
lien on the property. This notice shall be
sent no less than 10 days prior to sale
via certified mail.
taX sale Day
Tax Sale Day
O.C.G.A. 9-13-160 and 9-13-161 require
that the tax sale be held the first
Tuesday of the month between the legal
hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm at the
courthouse. Allows for the sale to take
place on a Wednesday if the first
Tuesday is a holiday. Usually the sale is
conducted before the courthouse door.
Tax Sale Day
• O.C.G.A. 9-13-162 allows for the sale to
continue day to day until completed.
• The tax sale is a “public sale” and has to
be made available to anyone willing bid
and tender payment. The sale will be
held in a manner of an auction with a
starting bid consisting of all taxes,
penalties, interest, and cost at which
point you will stop at the highest bid.
Tax Sale day
It is at your discretion on how you
accept payment and when payment is
due. Typically cash or certified fund is all
that is accepted day of sale.
Once payment is tendered a Tax Deed
will be issued and recorded in the
Money that belongs to everyone but
The difference between the opening bid
and the purchase amount is considered
excess funds. If you hold tax sales, you
are going to have excess funds. This is
a by product of conducting tax sales.
O.C.G.A. 48-4-5 requires that all
interested parties be notified by first
class mail of any overages within 30
days of the sale.
O.C.G.A 48-4-5 further states that the
notice contain a description of the land,
date sold, purchaser’s name and
address, sale price, amount of excess
funds, and will be made available for
distribution to the owners as their
interest exist. This code also allows for
an interpleader action to be filed in
superior court when deemed necessary
by the levying officer.
• O.C.G.A. 48-4-5 (c) states that the
levying officer shall pay over to the state
DOR unclaimed properties division after
5 years has elapsed for which no action
or proceeding is pending in a claim for
• You are the fiduciary of the funds. Once
a claim is made, you must act in a timely
manner to handle any claim or you could
be subject to money rule interest.
Time to give back what was purchased.
O.C.G.A. 48-4-40 When a property is
sold for taxes any person having right,
title, or interest in or lien upon the
property may redeem the property until
that right has been foreclosed. The right
of redemption is open for a minimum of
12 months from the date of sale.
O.C.G.A. 48-4-42 states the amount
payable for redemption is the purchase
price plus 20 percent interest of the
purchase price during the first year and
an additional 10 percent for each year
there after. The purchaser can also get
20 percent interest on any future
assessments as well that is paid.
O.C.G.A 48-4-44 requires that once
redemption has occurred, the purchaser
shall execute a quit claim deed back to
the defendant in fi. fa. The recitals of the
quit claim deed recite who redeemed,
the capacity of their interest, and how
much was paid. Once the redemption
money is paid, the purchaser has 7 days
to execute a quit claim deed and 10
days to record it.
O.C.G.A 48-4-45 and 48-4-46 deals with
the foreclosure on the right to redeem.
After the sale of the property, the levying
officer is out of the picture, but it is
necessary to know what goes on after
tax sale should any questions arise.
Remember, you are not an attorney and
need to tell whomever your talking to
that as well.