What is a Tax Lien?

A tax lien is placed on any property with an overdue tax balance. The process is completely regulated by NH State Laws (aka RSAs). The process begins any time after the 30 day due date of the notice of taxes. It is a very time consuming process for the tax collector's office and ultimately very costly to the taxpayer. Following is a brief outline of the lien process.

A Notice of Delinquency is forwarded to the owner(s) of each delinquent tax account, usually sent in February. If the account remains unpaid, a Notice of Impending Lien is mailed to the current owner(s), by certified mail, return receipt requested, at least 30 days prior to the lien date. The letter will include the amount of taxes owed, interest, and the cost of preparing and mailing the notice, as well as the last date and time payment will be accepted. If the account is not paid by the deadline, a lien is placed on the property and recorded at the Grafton County Registry of Deeds. Once the lien is placed, interest increases to 14% per annum.

Within 45 days of the execution of the lien, the lienholder must search the records at the Registry of Deeds to identify mortgage holders on the properties that have been liened. A Notice is then forwarded to any mortgage holders, including, but not limited to, banks, mortgage companies or individuals. The notification is vital and required by law to insure the municipality's priority lien above all mortgages. The cost of this part of the process is calculated and added to the amount due on each account.

If after 2 years from the lien date, the lien amount is still unpaid, the municipality may begin the deeding process to acquire the property by Tax Collector Deed for delinquent taxes. This process is also regulated by NH State laws and requires a series of notices and costs associated with them.

Partial payments may be made at any time. Whenever a taxpayer or person with legal interest in a property pays the taxes, interest and cost IN FULL, the Tax Collector must forward a Notice of Redemption to the Registry of Deeds within 30 days of the payment date.

Tax Collector Deeds are processed two years from the liening date.

Properties that still have balances due two years and a day from the liening date are notified of the impending deeding process pursuant to RSA 80:77 and 80:77a. At least 30 days prior to executing the deed under RSA 80:76, the tax collector shall notify the current owner of the property or his representative or executor, and each person holding a mortgage or other legal interest upon such property by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the pending deeding. At the time of preparing and sending these notices additional penalties (aka costs) were assessed to each property.

Any person with a legal interest in the property subject to the real estate tax lien can redeem the lien by paying at any time before the deeding date, the amount of the real estate lien, with interest at 14 percent per annum upon the whole amount of the recorded lien from the date of lien together with redemption costs and costs for identifying and notifying the mortgagees, if any (RSA 80:69).

Total taxes, accrued interest and costs for the tax lien that are not paid in full by the deeding date are taken by tax collector deed to the Town of Thornton. Those properties are then owned by the Town of Thornton. Pursuant to RSA 80:76 the tax collector, after 2 years from the execution of the real estate tax lien, shall execute to the Town of Thornton a deed of the property subject to the real estate tax lien that has not been redeemed.