To the Editor:

Once again it’s time for the annual tax sale, or rather auction of unpaid property taxes.

Why does Madison County, or any other county for that matter, hold a tax sale? It’s simple. The county must collect the unpaid debt so that it can distribute it to the proper taxing entities, e.g. school districts.

When a property owner doesn’t pay his or her taxes, the county treasurer, in accordance with Illinois law, holds a tax sale to collect the debt. The unpaid taxes are sold to a person or company, known as a tax buyer.

Tax buyers are “substitute” taxpayers. They purchase the unpaid taxes during the tax sale. The property owner is essentially being given a “loan” by the tax buyer to pay their debt and then charged penalty interest on the amount paid.

The tax buyer who offers the lowest bid for penalty interest “wins” the tax debt.

The bids on penalty interest start at a rate of 18 percent, which is the maximum allowed by law. The average penalty interest rate during the past three years in Madison County has averaged less than four percent.

Remember a tax sale is only for the purchase of property taxes, it’s not that the sale of a home.

For more information on this process, taxpayers are invited to visit our web site at or call the treasurer's office at 618-692-6260.

(Editor's note: Property owners have until 4:30 p.m. Feb. 11 to pay any delinquent taxes. Taxes that are not paid in full will be sold at the annual tax sale at 9 a.m. Feb. 13. The public is invited to observe the tax sale, which will be held in the County Board room).

Kurt Prenzler, CPA

Madison County Treasurer

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