Delaware General Assembly



Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware (two-thirds of all Members elected to each House concurring therein):

Section 1. Chapter 279, Volume 53, Laws of Delaware, is amended by adding thereto a new Section to read:

Section 16A. Proceedings for collection of Delinquent Taxes

(a) Suits

If taxes are not paid on or before the last day of September of the year in which they were assessed, the Tax Collector shall use whatever he deems to be reasonable means to collect such delinquent taxes without suit. The Tax Collector may, at least six months after the taxes become delinquent, begin the legal proceedings hereinafter mentioned, against all delinquent taxables.

Proceedings for the collection of delinquent taxes shall be by suit on an action of debt before any Justice of the Peace of Kent County or in the Court of Common Pleas of Kent County or in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for Kent County. Judgments may be obtained in the Superior Court by filing an affidavit of demand together with a copy of the tax bills in the same manner and under the same conditions as judgments are now obtained under Section 3901 of Title 10 of the Delaware Code; and the suit shall be against the person to whom the land is assessed, or in case the land is owned by any person to whom it is not assessed, then suit may be entered against the owner or owners of such land or against any other person whose duty it is to pay the tax. If personal service be had upon any one of several owners of land upon which taxes are so assessed, service need not be had upon the other owner or owners of such land, if a copy of the writ is left with the tenant or any adult person in possession or is posted upon the premises six days before the return of such process.

(b) Suit for collection of taxes against guardian or trustee

Suit for the purpose of any town taxes may be brought against the guardian or trustee and judgments recovered against them shall be binding upon the land of the persons they represent. Any person owning or having any interest in any land upon which town taxes have been assessed, and being under the disability of infancy or incompetency of mind, and not having a guardian or trustee, may be made a defendant in any suit for collection of taxes by a guardian ad litem or trustee ad litem, to be appointed by the court upon the petition of the Tax Collector.

(c) Tax Proceedings Against Nonresidents

In case any owner of real property who is assessed for town taxes is a nonresident, proceedings may be had by attachment. Such writ of attachment shall be framed, directed, executed and returned and like proceedings had as in other cases of attachment in this State, except that the Tax Collector shall only be required to make and file an affidavit stating that the defendant resides out of the State and that he is justly indebted for town taxes in the sum due.

(d) Sale of Real Property upon Execution in Superior Court on a Tax Judgment

Execution may be had in the Superior Court upon real estate upon a judgment for taxes as upon other judgments in the Superior Court; provided, however, that in any case where real property is sold upon execution on a tax judgment it shall not be necessary to issue a writ of inquisition. Any real estate sold upon an execution issued upon a judgment for taxes shall vest in the purchaser all the right and title that the defendant or defendants in such judgment had in and to such land, freed and discharged from any dower or courtesy, in, and to, or against, such land.

(e) Approval or Disapproval of Tax Sales; Disposal of Excess Money

Upon the return of any writ of execution for the collection of a judgment for taxes, the Superior Court may inquire into the circumstances and regularity of the proceedings relative to such sale, and either approve the sale or set it aside at the first day of the term of court occurring after the sale date. If the court approves the sale, the sheriff shall deliver to the purchaser a deed reciting the judgment and writ, and setting forth the facts relative to the sale, and the purchaser shall have and be possessed of all right, subject to the right of redemption as provided in this section of the owner of such land, and the court shall have power to make all necessary orders and rules and to issue all processes which may be necessary to place the purchaser in possession of such real estate. If the sale be set aside, another sale may be ordered until the judgment is collected. The court shall make such disposal of all proceeds of such sale, in excess of the amount necessary to satisfy such judgment, as it shall deem just. No sale shall be approved if the owner of the property or any person having an interest therein shall be ready at court to pay such judgment and all costs.

(f) Right of Redemption; Redeemed Property Subject to Liens

The owner of any property sold upon an execution issued upon a tax judgment, or its legal representatives, may redeem the property at any time within one year from the day the sale is approved by the court, and if the owner or his legal representative does not redeem such property within such period, any person having any interest in such property, or lien upon such property, shall be entitled to redeem the same within eighteen months of the date of such approval by the court, by paying to the purchaser or his legal representative the amount of the purchase price, and twenty per cent in addition thereto, or if the purchaser or his legal representative shall refuse to receive the same, by paying such amount into such court. If the owner or his legal representative shall redeem such property, he may prefer to the court a petition, setting forth the fact and thereupon the court shall cause to be entered upon the judgment a memorandum that the property therein described has been redeemed, and he shall hold such redeemed property subject to the same liens and in the same order of priority as they existed at the time of the sale thereof.

(g) Execution and Delivery of Certain Tax Deeds

Any person who has a lien upon property sold for delinquent taxes and who shall redeem the same within the time and in the manner prescribed in the preceding section, or any purchaser in case the property has not been redeemed, or their representative or representatives, may prefer a petition to the Superior Court setting forth the facts and praying for a deed for such property, and the court shall order the sheriff to execute and deliver a deed to the person or persons entitled thereto granting and assuring to such person or persons the same estate and title as such owner was seized of therein at the time of the sale, free and clear of all liens existing against such property at the time of the sale.

(h) Application of Proceeds from Sale of Land for Any Reason

In case any property is sold under any of the provisions of this Section, the proceeds of such sale shall first be applied to the satisfaction of the judgment and costs under which such property is sold, then to the payment of any unpaid town taxes assessed against such property before any of the proceeds of such sale shall be applied to any liens of record existing against such property, notwithstanding the fact that such liens have been entered before such taxes were levied and assessed. If the proceeds of the sale are sufficient to discharge all taxes assessed against the property and are sufficient to discharge all liens against the property, the surplus shall be distributed to the owner of the property as in the case of other executor sales.

() Adjournment of Tax Sales

Any sale of real estate under this section, may be adjourned from time to time.

Approved December 31, 1963.