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
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 2013 taxes will lose their
property to foreclosure in March 2016.
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
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 2013 (the last "winter" portion of
this bill is payable to the local unit by February 17, 2014) will be
delinquent and turned over to the county treasurer on March 1, 2014
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 2013 taxes that are still unpaid as of March 1,
2015, 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. 2013 property taxes will be foreclosed in March
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
What if I still owe my property taxes from 2013?
What should I do about those?
Pay them as quickly as possible. The 2013 delinquent tax
will be foreclosed on in March 2016.
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
If I refuse to accept the mailed notice; avoid
the personal service; or transfer ownership of the property, will I
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
If you are facing severe financial hardship, ask for help when
you get the first delinquent notice from the county treasurer!
Call the County
From Buchanan, Niles
684-5274 Ext. 8569
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 2016. 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
July - December 2013: 2013 property taxes
billed by village, city, or township treasurer and payable at
their office no later than February 17, 2014.
March 1, 2014: Unpaid 2013 property taxes
are forwarded as delinquent to county treasurer for collection.
County treasurer adds a 4% administration fee and 1% per month
October 1, 2014: County treasurer adds $15
fee to each parcel.
March 1, 2015: 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, 2014)
March 2016: 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.
Foreclosure Judgment plus 21 days: Clear
title to the property passes to the county.
July or September 2016: Property
Note: Property records are public information.
You are welcome to check on the property tax status of others for
who you have a concern.