There are several actions required by law in the preparation for auctioning property. The legal axiom of caveat emptor or “buyer beware” applies to tax sales (O.C.G.A. § 9- 13-167). Therefore, you are charged with knowledge of the titles of the properties that are sold and any defects in these titles. The Levying Officer does not warrant the titles and any title searches performed for or by our office for the purpose of a tax sale should not be considered an opinion of title to rely on for tax sale purchasers.
TAX SALE PROCEDURES
The Levying Officer follows certain procedures when it levies upon a piece of property. The procedures are prescribed in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.). You will see code sections referenced throughout this booklet. These references are a starting point for your research and are by no
means a complete listing. We strongly suggest you read those sections of Georgia Law which pertain to Tax Executions and Tax Sales. O.C.G.A. Title 48 – Revenue and Taxation, Chapter 3-Tax Executions, and Chapter 4-Tax Sales, contain important information that you may want to be aware of. Also read and research those Opinions of the Attorney General and Judicial Decisions that are shown after each code section. These opinions and court cases are extremely important and must be taken into consideration
when interpreting these laws.
Fi.Fa. (FIERI FACIAS)
A Fi.Fa. (short for fieri facias – a Latin term for “cause it to be done” and also used interchangeably with TAX EXECUTION or EXECUTION) is a tax lien or writ, authorizing the Sheriff or Ex-Officio Sheriff to obtain satisfaction of unpaid taxes by levying on and selling the delinquent taxpayer’s property. These documents are recorded on the General Execution Docket (“GED”) of the Clerk of Superior Court. (O.C.G.A. § 48-3-1 and 48-3-3). After the due date for tax payments has expired, the Levying Officer shall notify each delinquent taxpayer in writing that the taxes are outstanding, and if taxes are not paid within thirty (30) days, an execution (Fi.Fa.) will be issued (O.C.G.A. § 48-3-3). If there is not sufficient property in the county in which the taxpayer resides to satisfy the tax execution, property of the taxpayer situated in any other county shall be subject to levy and sale. (0.C.G.A. § 48-3-5)
AUTHORITY TO SELL
The Levying Officer serves as Ex-Officio Sheriff. Each Levying Officer when acting as an ex officio sheriff shall have full power to bring property to sale for the purpose of collecting taxes due the state and county. Additionally, he shall have all the powers vested in sheriffs for the advertisement of the property for sale, for the sale of the property, and for the making and delivery of all due and proper conveyances and bills of sale. All sales made by a Levying Officer acting as an Ex Officio sheriff shall be valid and shall carry the title to property sold as fully and completely as if made by the sheriff of the county (O.C.G.A. § 48-5-137) . As Ex-Officio Sheriff, he appoints Ex-Officio Deputy Sheriffs to act on his behalf in tax sale matters.
Each Ex-Officio Deputy Sheriff has full power to advertise and bring property to sale for the purpose of collecting taxes due (O.C.G.A. § 48-3-6).
Taxes due the state and county are not only against the owner BUT also against the property regardless of judgments, mortgages, sales, or encumbrances. Taxes constitute a general lien upon all property of a
taxpayer and the lien attaches on January 1st of each tax year, even though a Fi.Fa. has not been issued (0.C.G.A. § 48-2-56 and 48-5-28).