Indiana Court of Appeals Approves Forfeiture of Ineligible Bidder’s Tax Sale Certificates | State
Real estate investor Thomas Wisniewski appears to be nearly out of options in an attempt to hold onto the hundreds of properties he attempted to acquire in the March 19, 2019 tax sale by Lake County Commissioners.
Last week, the Indiana Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a Lake Circuit Court ruling allowing the Lake County auditor to revoke Wisniewski’s 504 unclaimed tax sale certificates.
The three-judge appeal panel found no reason to disrupt circuit judge Marissa McDermott’s April 2021 ruling that found Wisniewski not eligible for the tax sale due to his own taxes unpaid land that Wisniewski did not pay by the deadline set by the Lake County Treasurer.
Additionally, the appeals court noted that Wisniewski also broke tax sale rules by using family friends and related businesses to purchase tax sale certificates on his behalf when he was not eligible. to participate due to unpaid property taxes.
“Under these circumstances, we cannot say that the circuit court erred in lifting the suspension and allowing the treasurer to proceed with the forfeiture of the 504 inadmissibly obtained tax sale certificates,” the court said. call.
Attorney Randy Wyllie, representing the Lake County auditor, said following the appeals court ruling he plans to consult with the county auditor’s attorneys immediately to proceed with the forfeiture authorized by the court of Wisniewski tax sale certificates.
It probably won’t happen for at least a few weeks, as Wisniewski can still ask the Indiana Supreme Court to reconsider his case.
The appeals court ruling acknowledges that a Times investigation, as well as a video showing Wisniewski participating in the auction on behalf of Broadway Logistics Complex LLC, prompted the county auditor to investigate the purchases of tax sale of Wisniewski.
The resulting scandal resulted in changes to both state law and county tax sales rules to make it even more explicit that anyone with back taxes is ineligible to participate in a tax sale. County, and all offers made by, or on behalf of, an ineligible purchaser are subject to immediate forfeiture, along with any monies paid for such purchases.
Lake County and other local governments in Indiana regularly auction off properties whose owners are in arrears with tax payments to recover otherwise lost income and potentially allow winning bidders to own the properties.
But records show that every year people who are already behind on their taxes try to outsmart the system, particularly in Lake County, which leads to thousands of ever-changing properties, tax sale after tax sale. due to taxes still unpaid.