Delinquent Property Taxes

The City of Niles and the Berrien County treasurer's office have widely distributed the following information to homeowners to ensure that residents are aware of the consequences of delinquent taxes and what measures can be taken to ensure that your property remains your property. Please review the following information and call us if you have any questions. Contact numbers are also listed below.

The new tax reversion process as provided for under Public Act 123 of 1999 will speed up the time period during which a taxpayer could lose their property due to delinquent property taxes. Previous law allowed property taxes to remain delinquent for an extended period before the property was subject to foreclosure. Taxpayers now have only two years from the date of delinquency. For example, people who fail to pay their 2021 taxes will lose their property to foreclosure in March 2024.

This may be a critical issue for some individuals: elderly taxpayers who have limited financial resources or others who have developed a habit of paying their taxes late. There is a concern that some of these individuals could suffer the loss of their home simply because they are not alert to the new tax payment requirements. If you have a parent, other relative, or an acquaintance that might fall within this group, you could help by checking with our Deputy Treasurer in the City Tax Division. Tax records are public information. If you provide us with a name and address we can check the record and advise if the individual has delinquent taxes. If a delinquency exists, you can then bring the matter to the attention of the individual and advise them of the consequences of not paying the taxes.

If I don't pay my taxes, will I really lose my house and property?

Yes. Property owners who had delinquent taxes under the old law could also lose their property, but they had more time to pay and more "second chances." Under the new law, if your taxes are delinquent for two years, that's it. You've lost the property.

What is a delinquent tax?

A delinquent tax is an unpaid tax that has been forwarded to the county treasurer for collection on March 1st of the year after it was assessed. For example, taxes that are billed by your village, city, or township in 2021 (the last "winter" portion of this bill is payable to the local unit by February 14, 2020) will be delinquent and turned over to the county treasurer on March 1, 2022

What happens after the property is forwarded to the county treasurer for collection?

The county treasurer adds a 4% administration fee and interest of 1% per month. After one year, the property is forfeited to the county treasurer. For example, the 2021 taxes that are still unpaid as of March 1, 2024, are in forfeiture.

What does it mean for my property to be in forfeiture? Does that mean I lose my property?

No. Forfeiture is not foreclosure. If your property is in forfeiture, you still have a year before it will be foreclosed; however, the interest and fees will be higher. When a property is forfeited, the interest rate goes from 1% per month to 1.5% per month, back to the date the taxes became delinquent. A $210 fee is also added.

What happens after my property is in forfeiture?

After a property has been in forfeiture for one year it will be foreclosed. 2021 property taxes will be foreclosed in March 2024.

What happens after my property is foreclosed? How do I get it back?

You cannot get your property back after it has been foreclosed. Foreclosure is final. Property that has been foreclosed upon will be sold to the State of Michigan or local unit of government for a public purpose, or at a public auction to the highest bidder.

What if I still owe my property taxes from 2019? What should I do about those?

Pay them as quickly as possible. The 2021 delinquent tax will be foreclosed on in March 2024.

What if I don't think I'll have the money to pay all the taxes at once?

If you are more than one-year delinquent, you may pay each year off separately. Furthermore, it is possible to break a year into two unequal portions of approximately 50%, but you will need to call the treasurer's office in the month that you want to make payment to get that exact amount.

Will I receive any notification before my property is foreclosed?

Yes. Five notifications will be made. Two will be made by 1st Class mail, two by certified mail, and the last will be made by personal service. In addition to these notifications, delinquent properties subject to forfeiture will be published in the newspaper.

If I refuse to accept the mailed notice; avoid the personal service; or transfer ownership of the property, will I avoid foreclosure?

No. The county treasurer is only required to make a reasonable effort to notify the person or persons with a legal interest who appear on county records at the time of forfeiture.

What if I know that I simply cannot pay all my taxes before foreclosure?

If you are facing severe financial hardship, ask for help when you get the first delinquent notice from the county treasurer!

Call the County Treasurer's office:

From Buchanan, Niles
684-5274 Ext. 8569

From Galien
695-3887 Ext. 8569

From Three Oaks, New Buffalo,
Lakeside, Union Pier
756-9571 Ext. 8569

From Bridgman, New Troy, Sawyer
465-5373 Ext. 8569

From other county locations
983-7111 Ext. 8569

Delinquent tax payments may be made in person Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 am and 5:00 pm at the County Administration Center, 701 Main Street, St. Joseph. You may also go to the Berrien County Treasurer's web page to make delinquent payments online.

Mailed payments should be sent to: Berrien County Treasurer, 701 Main St., St. Joseph, MI 49085

I guess I really don't have to worry about losing my property until 2024. Why not wait and pay my taxes then?

Don't wait. The longer you delay the more expensive it will be - interest and fees are continually building up. Also, remember that there is no statutory relief if you fail to pay because of an unanticipated absence, delays in mail delivery, illness, or forgetfulness.

Pay your delinquent taxes now! Foreclosure is final! Twenty-one days after the foreclosure petition is approved, you cannot get your property back!

Property Foreclosure Time Line

  1. July - December 2021: 2021 property taxes billed by village, city, or township treasurer and payable at their office no later than February 14, 2022.
  2. March 1, 2022: Unpaid 2021 property taxes are forwarded as delinquent to county treasurer for collection. County treasurer adds a 4% administration fee and 1% per month interest.
  3. October 1, 2022: County treasurer adds $15 fee to each parcel.
  4. March 1, 2023: Property is forfeited to county treasurer. County treasurer adds a $210 fee. Interest increased from 1% per month to 1.5% per month, back to date the taxes became delinquent. (March 1, 2022)
  5. March 2024: Circuit court enters judgment of foreclosure. From the date of this judgment, property owners have only 21 days to pay the taxes or lose their property.
  6. Foreclosure Judgment plus 21 days: Clear title to the property passes to the county.
  7. July or September 2024: Property is sold

Note: Property records are public information. You are welcome to check on the property tax status of others for who you have a concern.