The 2017 DeSoto County Tax Lien Sale will be online for the first time ever Aug. 28 and from now on into the future — eliminating the outdated practice of prospective bidders holding up paddles, camping out in hallways before the sale begins and congregating in a crowded courtroom.
Formerly, the tax lien sale was an event which resembled nothing less than a grand spectacle at the DeSoto County Courthouse or Administration Building, with overflowing crowds and long lines.
DeSoto County Tax Collector Joey Treadway appeared before DeSoto County Supervisors and informed them of the major change of this year's tax lien sale.
Treadway said DeSoto County has had the opportunity to join other counties in going to an online sale but he has resisted because the tax sale has become more or less a "community happening" over the years.
"I enjoy it," said Treadway. "It's a lot of work on us, but I really enjoy it."
When Treadway was notified that Madison County and Lee County went to an online tax lien sale last year and doubled the amount of revenue from overbids — revenue turned back over to the county — Treadway said he had no choice but to go online, in the interest of taxpayers.
"They (Madison County and Lee County) doubled the amount (they turned back over to their respective county treasuries)," Treadway said.
"Thirty-three counties will now be online this year," Treadway said.
The online sale is being conducted through the web portal of GovEase.com.
"Prospective bidders can go on the GovEase.com web site and pre-bid, if they wish," said Treadway, explaining the process.
The online bidding process starts at 8:30 a.m.
Individuals will log on after having registered and have 10 seconds to make a bid. If someone bids more on a parcel, the 10 second process starts over. If no bid is received within 10 seconds, the sale for that tax lien on a parcel is closed out.
Registration actually began July 31. Individuals may sign up and register by visiting www.govease.com/auctions.
Online web training will be available to the public. Training sessions will be hosted daily.
Visit Training.govease.com to sign up for training.
A notice of tax liens on all participating properties will still be published in the DeSoto Times-Tribune, the same as in years past.
Counties make their profit from overbids at the sale. Parcels with tax liens affixed to them come up for sale when taxes owed are at least two years and 11 months in arrears, through an order in Chancery Court.
"We have batted this idea around of going online for two to three years now," Treadway said. "The only drawback that I see is that it's (tax sale) an event. I enjoy the sale. We've had the opportunity the last three years to do this but I just couldn't pull the trigger. But you start showing me $200,000 profit and I have to show responsibility to go online."
Treadway said one of the problems in the past is that individuals who registered under one Social Security number would bring along between 10 to 20 people under the same registration number and bid individually."
Treadway said some of those people were paid up to $100 a day to sit there, raise their paddles and bid on tax liens on parcels.
The online system will eliminate that practice, according to Treadway.
"They GovEase will run the tax sale and we will monitor it," said Treadway.
Treadway said the online system will open up the sale to bidders from across the country but that has always been in the case, even if it was conducted or bid on in person.
"The complaints I've had is that this (online sale) would open it up to people from out of state and across the country," District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell said. "But they are already coming in from out of state."
Longtime tax sale participant Mark Thomas, a Buena Vista resident, said he was not enthusiastic about the new online-only tax lien sale.
"A lot of the elderly people go to the bidding," Thomas said. "A lot of them don't have computers."
Caldwell said it's all a matter of changing with the times.
"People love seeing horses and carriages going down the street and riding through town but it's so much more efficient to put gas in the car and go to where you need to," Caldwell said during a break in the meeting.
Added Treadway: "We're not doing our job if we don't make the county money."
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.