It's time to pay your delinquent city taxes

Matthew Lane • Jan 12, 2020 at 6:00 PM

KINGSPORT — If you have unpaid property taxes from 2018, now is the time to settle up with the taxman. The yearly process to collect delinquent taxes will soon be ratcheting up, and if you are in arrears, expect to see something in the mail this month.

Kingsport sends out thousands of tax notices every year, and the city collects more than 99% of the tax levy in the year bills are issued. However, not everyone pays up and they fail to do so for a variety of reasons.

Church Hill attorney Joe May, who handles delinquent tax collections for the city of Kingsport, recently sent out some information regarding delinquent taxes and what you should do in case you owe from prior years.


Property taxes are due by Nov. 1 of each year, with delinquent penalties applying after Nov. 30. Kingsport imposes a 2% penalty the first and second month property taxes are not paid, and a 1% penalty every month thereafter.

Notices that go out this month are for delinquent taxes dating back to 2018 — not for the property taxes most folks recently paid. A full year has to pass before the city embarks on the collection process, which could ultimately end up in Sullivan County Chancery Court come April.

Beginning in January, the first delinquent notice will go in the mail. That notice will say there are only small costs attached. A second reminder will then go out saying you’ll be facing much larger costs, including the cost of publishing a notice in the newspaper.

People who ignore the notices are subject to penalties and the cost will start to add up exponentially.

“The entire process of tax collection is designed to incentivize prompt payment of taxes when due and to discourage any tendency for persons to ‘borrow’ from their tax obligation by delaying payment,” May said.

There are 991 delinquent accounts totaling just over $492,000, May said.


Some of the delinquent taxpayers are new to the list this year, some are holdovers from previous years, and a majority of the cases are simply due to oversight.

One of the more common causes of becoming delinquent is when a homeowner pays off their mortgage and forgets about paying their property taxes the following year. Another is when a parcel is sold and the new property owner assumes the taxes were paid during the sale.

If you’re one of the folks who is delinquent, you’ll eventually be served a formal notice by a deputy sheriff, constable or process server. Failing to pay the taxes as soon as possible will result in an additional cost at every step of the process, May said.

Ultimately, any remaining delinquent tax properties will be sold at a public auction this fall.

A brochure is available from the comptroller of the state of Tennessee for elderly and disabled tax relief and for disabled veteran tax relief, or such information may be obtained from the local county trustee’s office — either in Blountville or in Rogersville.

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