Preference over other proceedings and actions.
Any proceeding brought pursuant to this section shall be given preference over all other causes and actions not on trial and no such proceeding shall be referred.
Presumptions of validity; guardian ad litem. 75.521(12)(a)
The county need not plead or prove the various steps, proceedings and notices for the assessment and levy of the taxes, assessments or other lawful charges against the lands set forth in the list of tax liens and all such taxes, assessments or other lawful charges and the lien thereof shall be presumed to be valid. A defendant alleging any jurisdictional defect or invalidity in the tax, special assessment, special charge or special tax, because of which said land was not liable to taxation, special assessment or other lawful charge, must particularly specify in the defendant's answer such jurisdictional defect or invalidity and must affirmatively establish such defense.
This section shall apply to and be valid and effective with respect to all defendants even though one or more be infants, individuals adjudicated incompetent, absentees or nonresidents of the state of Wisconsin, provided that a guardian ad litem shall be appointed to serve for all persons known or unknown who have or may have an interest in the lands described in any list and who are or may be minors or individuals adjudicated incompetent at the date of filing such list. Such guardian ad litem may be appointed by the court without notice, and the fee for the services of the guardian ad litem as fixed by the court shall be paid by the county.
Where, as to any parcel in the list of tax liens, an answer has been interposed by a party and the court shall determine in favor of such party upon such answer, the court shall make a final judgment divesting said parcel of the lien alleged to have accrued against same.
In the event that the court shall determine that the issue raised by the answer of the defendant is without merit, a final judgment to such effect shall be entered ordering and adjudging that the county is vested with an estate in fee simple absolute in such lands subject, however, to all unpaid taxes and charges which are subsequent to the latest dated tax lien appearing on the list specified in sub. (3) (b)
and to recorded restrictions as provided by s. 75.14
, and all persons, both natural and artificial, including the state of Wisconsin, infants, individuals adjudicated incompetent, absentees and nonresidents who may have had any right, title, interest, claim, lien or equity of redemption in such lands, are forever barred and foreclosed of such right, title, interest, claim, lien or equity of redemption. Such judgment shall be deemed to be based on the latest dated tax lien appearing on the list of tax liens. Such judgment shall have the effect of the issuance of a tax deed or deeds and of judgment to bar former owners and quiet title thereon.
Judgment to be recorded.
A certified copy of the judgment of the court in both default and contested cases shall be recorded by the prevailing party in the office of the register of deeds of such county.
Any person who was the owner of any right, title or interest in land which was lost by judgment of foreclosure as provided in this section may within 2 years from the date of entry of such judgment, in the cases hereinafter mentioned other than fraud and within 6 years in the case of fraud, commence an action in the circuit court against the county to recover the fair market value of the person's interest therein at the date of entry of said judgment of foreclosure in rem. If the court determines that such person's right, title and interest in said land was unjustly foreclosed and lost because said person's interest in such lands was not subject to taxation, special assessment, special charge or special tax at the time of the levy of the tax, assessment or charge, for nonpayment of which said lands were foreclosed, or that in fact such tax, special assessment, special charge or special tax was paid by said owner, or that the tax lien upon which the judgment of foreclosure in rem was based was barred by the statute of limitations, or if such person lost said property through fraud without fault on his or her part, the court shall determine the fair market value of said land or of said person's interest therein as hereinabove set forth. The fair market value shall not exceed the amount arrived at by dividing the assessed valuation of such lands in the year in which such judgment in rem was entered by the percentage ratio of real estate assessments prevailing for the taxing district in which the lands were located as set forth in the equalization for state tax purposes of the same year. The court shall award judgment to such plaintiff in such amount, together with reasonable attorney fees to be fixed by the court, and the plaintiff's costs and disbursements of such action. The amount awarded the plaintiff shall be reduced by the total amount due, as of the date of entry of such judgment, for all current taxes and upon all tax certificates held by the county on such date that the court shall find were valid. Upon payment of the judgment the county may charge back as a tax to any taxing district the amount which such district received from the county in payment of taxes and interest on said land either by distribution of proceeds of sale thereof by the county or through other payment by the county to the extent that it exceeds the amount distributable to such district had the same been based upon the payment of the taxes and interest found by the court to be properly payable at the time of the entry of the judgment of foreclosure and applied in reduction of the amount awarded to the plaintiff hereunder.
History: 1977 c. 174
; 1979 c. 34
; 1983 a. 52
; 1987 a. 27
; 1989 a. 330
; 1991 a. 39
; 1993 a. 301
; 1995 a. 224
; 1997 a. 72
; 1999 a. 96
; 2005 a. 387
; 2017 a. 207
The county's failure to fully comply with the statute renders a foreclosure judgment void. A judgment may not be valid as to one party but void as to another. Waukesha County v. Young, 106 Wis. 2d 244
, 316 N.W.2d 362
Judgment under this section extinguishes all rights, titles, and interests in foreclosed property, including a claim based on adverse possession. Published notice was sufficient. Leciejewski v. Sedlak, 116 Wis. 2d 629
, 342 N.W.2d 734
A municipality may constitutionally retain the excess proceeds of a tax lien foreclosure and sale if there has been notice sufficient to meet due process requirements. Due process does not require notices to state that should the tax lien be foreclosed and property sold the municipality may retain all the proceeds. Ritter v. Ross, 207 Wis. 2d 477
, 558 N.W.2d 909
(Ct. App. 1996).
If the provisions of this section are not followed, the remedies of this section are not available. A county's failure to fully comply with the statute renders the foreclosure judgment void. Topps v. Walworth County, 2003 WI App 30
, 260 Wis. 2d 225
, 659 N.W.2d 177
A reasonable reading of sub. (3) (am) 2. and (c) is that they direct a county to set forth the names of the owners and mortgagees for whom a post-office address is identified in the records that are located in the office of the register of deeds, relating to each affected parcel. Nowhere in the statute does the legislature direct counties, before compiling a list of “unknown addresses" under sub. (3) (c), to search elsewhere if no address appears in the records relating to an affected parcel. Juneau County v. Associated Bank, N.A. 2013 WI App 29
, 346 Wis. 2d 264
, 828 N.W.2d 262
An income tax lien is extinguished by tax deed under s. 75.14 or by judgment under s. 75.521. 62 Atty. Gen. 234.
Reassessment of taxes by order of court. 75.54(1)(1)
In all actions in any court of this state in which either party seeks to avoid or set aside in whole or in part any assessment, tax or tax proceeding or reassessment, if the court is of the opinion, after holding a hearing, that, for any reason affecting the groundwork of the tax and all of the property in any taxation district, the assessment, tax or tax proceeding should be set aside, the court shall immediately stay all proceedings in the action and in all other actions affecting the assessment, tax or tax proceeding in the taxation district until a reassessment of the property in the taxation district can be made. The proper officers of the municipality constituting the taxation district or in which the district is located shall reassess the property in the taxation district in the manner specified in the statutes and levy upon the reassessed property the amount of taxes for the year in question. A reassessment under this subsection shall be made by the assessor of the taxation district or by the person the court appoints, and the assessment roll shall be submitted to and passed upon by the board of review in the manner and after the same notice as that which is given in the case of the original assessment.
Upon completion of the review by the board of review under sub. (1)
, the clerk of the town, village or city in which the reassessed district is situated shall extend upon the assessment roll the taxes lawfully levied upon and apportioned to the property described in the tax roll for the year in question. The tax roll and the tax extended on the tax roll under this section are a public record and are prima facie evidence in any legal proceeding of all of the following:
The amount of tax justly chargeable against the party seeking to set aside or avoid the original assessment, tax or tax proceeding and the amount of tax upon all lands respecting which the action was brought.
The amount of tax justly chargeable against every other person and all other lands included in the tax roll for the year in question.
The reassessment and tax roll as corrected under this section shall be completed and filed with the clerk of the taxation district within 90 days from the date of entry of the order for reassessment unless the court upon motion and cause shown extends the time.
Upon completion and filing of the tax roll under sub. (2)
, notice of the reassessment shall be given by the clerk of the taxation district to the clerk of the court in which the action challenging the tax is pending. The clerk of court shall give notice of the reassessment to the attorneys for the parties to the action and to the attorneys in all other actions pending in which the validity of the original assessment may be involved.
If any party to an action seeking to set aside or avoid the original assessment, tax or tax proceeding desires to contest the validity of a reassessment made under this section, that party shall, within 20 days after notice of the completion and filing of the reassessment and tax roll, file written objections to the reassessment or tax roll with the clerk of the court where the action is pending and serve a copy of those objections upon the attorney for the opposing party within 5 days after filing.
Upon the filing and service of the written objections under par. (b)
, the court may direct that the issue raised by the objections be tried summarily by the court, which shall make an order sustaining or overruling the objections. If the objections are sustained, the court shall do one of the following:
Hold the reassessment or tax roll to be invalid and order subsequent reassessments of the tax in the manner and form provided in this section.
Determine and fix the amount of tax to be paid by the party or parties contesting the original assessment, tax or tax proceeding, and, for that purpose, the court may proceed to take any further evidence that is necessary to determine the tax.
If under sub. (3)
the reassessment and tax roll are held by the court to be regular and valid or if no objections to the reassessment and tax roll are filed, the court shall make an order requiring the party or parties contesting the original assessment, tax or tax proceeding to pay into court, for the use and benefit of the party entitled thereto, the amount that by the reassessment the contesting party or parties justly ought to pay. If the amount of tax imposed upon the property of the contesting party by the reassessment, or by the subsequent determination and order of the court, equals or exceeds the amount imposed on the property by the original assessment and tax roll, the party or parties contesting the validity of the assessment shall be adjudged to pay the costs of the suit. Otherwise, upon complying with the order of the court, the contesting party or parties are entitled to judgment with costs.
No judgment rendered in any action under this section affects the validity of any tax against any person other than the parties to the action or affects property that is not described in the complaint in the action.
A stay of proceedings and reassessment in accordance with sub. (1)
shall be ordered in all cases in which a tax that has been reassessed by any county, town or village board or common council for one or more years is adjudged uncollectible or void for any reason affecting the groundwork of the tax so as to require a reassessment in order to determine the amount properly due. If the reassessed tax has been levied in different years it is not necessary to make separate assessment rolls for each year. The valuations for each year may be placed opposite the description of the property on the assessment roll in columns headed with the figures of the year, so that the valuations for each year of reassessments are distinct from the valuations for other years entered upon the tax roll. All of the provisions of this section apply to the making and completion of, and to objections and further proceedings in respect to, an assessment under this subsection. An assessment under this subsection shall be treated with respect to each year that it purports to embrace as if it were a separate reassessment roll for that year.
The value of property reassessed under this section shall be fixed, as nearly as possible, as of the day as of which the original assessment was made, and the rules for determining the value of the property are those provided by law.
This section applies to all actions.
In any action under this section in which the evidence enables the court to determine, with reasonable certainty, the amount of taxes that were justly chargeable against the lands involved in the action, the court, may proceed to judgment without staying proceedings or ordering a reassessment, if it finds that it is for the best interests of all parties to the action that it should do so.
History: 1991 a. 316
; 1997 a. 253
When an initial assessment was unchallenged but annual percentage increases were voided, the “groundwork" of the tax was unaffected under sub. (1). Kaskin v. Board of Review, 91 Wis. 2d 272
, 282 N.W.2d 620
(Ct. App. 1979).
The trial court may determine taxes under either s. 74.74 [now s. 74.39] or 75.54. Judicial determination of taxes is not an unconstitutional “levy." Fontana v. Village of Fontana-on-Geneva Lake, 107 Wis. 2d 226
, 319 N.W.2d 900
(Ct. App. 1982).
The court erred in ordering an area reassessment without holding a hearing under sub. (1). Hemker v. Huggett, 114 Wis. 2d 320
, 338 N.W.2d 335
(Ct. App. 1983).
Application of section 75.54.
shall be construed to permit the reassessment, by or under the direction or authority of any city, of the property, real and personal, therein, which city, before and until the passage of these statutes, was authorized by law to make its own tax sales, tax certificates and tax deeds by its own proper officers. And in and for and in respect to every such city and the property, real and personal, therein the mayor and council thereof, the assessors thereof, the city clerk thereof, the board of equalization thereof, and the city treasurer thereof shall, as to any such city and the wards therein, respectively exercise all the powers and perform all the duties and proceed in the manner hereinbefore provided in respect to towns, villages and other cities, and exercise the powers and perform the duties devolved upon the board of supervisors, upon the assessors, upon the town clerk, upon the board of review and upon the town treasurer, respectively, for the reassessment of taxes and the collection thereof.
Actions related to tax certificates. 75.61(1)(1)
Every action enumerated in s. 75.57
, 1955 stats., and s. 66.0731
, and every action or proceeding to set aside any inclusion of land in a tax certificate for the nonpayment of taxes, or to cancel any tax certificate, or to restrain the issuing of any tax certificate, or tax deed, for any error or defect going to the validity of the assessment, and affecting the groundwork of such tax, or on account of any void or defective special assessment, shall be commenced within one year from the date of issuance of the tax certificate under s. 74.57
, and not thereafter. In every action brought to set aside any such inclusion of land in a tax certificate, or to cancel any tax certificate, or to restrain the issuing of any tax deed upon any ground whatever not going to the validity of the assessment and affecting the groundwork of such tax, special assessment, special charge or special tax, the plaintiff, if he or she shows himself or herself otherwise entitled to judgment, shall, before the entry thereof within a reasonable time to be fixed by the court, pay into the court for the county or city authorized to act under s. 74.87
holding the tax certificate the amount for which such land is delinquent, with interest on all such amounts at the rate of 8 percent per year from the times of payment until the money is paid into court; and in default of such payment within the time so fixed the defendant shall have judgment in the action. This provision as to the payment into court to be made by the plaintiff shall apply to all actions brought to cancel any tax deed, or to remove the cloud upon any title created by any tax certificate or tax deed where the action impeaches the tax deed or tax certificate upon any grounds whatever not affecting the groundwork of the tax for the nonpayment of which such deed or tax certificate was issued.
Tax certificates of county, discount on.
Whenever the county holds tax certificates upon real estate and the owner of said real estate or any person, firm, association, corporation or limited liability company holding a valid lien thereon shall claim the assessment of said real estate to be greater than the value that can ordinarily be obtained therefor at private sale, the respective town board, village board or city council where said real estate is situated may take proof under oath of the value of said real estate and make a finding thereon. Upon the filing of said finding with the county treasurer, the treasurer shall accept from said owner or lienholder the proper proportional tax on said real estate based upon the value so found, together with the proper charges, as in the case of redemption of tax certificates, shall cancel said tax certificate as it relates to that real estate, and shall give to said owner or lienholder a receipt for said tax. The difference between the tax as returned and the amount of such proportional tax, exclusive of charges, received by the county as a result of the compromise shall be charged to the town, village or city which returned the same and may be included by the county as a special charge in the next tax levy against such town, city or village.
Procedure in actions related to tax certificates. 75.62(1)(1)
Whenever any action or special proceeding is hereafter commenced to set aside any inclusion of lands in a tax certificate for the nonpayment of taxes, or to cancel any tax certificate, or to restrain the issuing of any tax certificate or tax deed, or to set aside any tax, for any error or defect going to the validity of the assessment and affecting the groundwork of such tax, within 20 days after the commencement of such action the plaintiff in such action or special proceeding shall pay or cause to be paid to the county, town, city, or village officer entitled to receive the same, the amount of taxes, interest and charges levied against the said lands involved in such action, as a condition of maintaining said action.
If in said action or proceeding a reassessment is ordered, the court shall, upon the completion of said reassessment made in the manner required by statute, determine the amount which, according to said reassessment, the plaintiff ought justly to have paid upon the lands involved in said action or special proceeding.
The plaintiff in such action or special proceeding shall be entitled to recover judgment for the amount, if any, the plaintiff so paid in excess of the amount the court shall finally determine the plaintiff ought to have paid on the lands involved in said action or proceeding, with interest from the date of such payment.
Payment of judgment.
Payment of any judgment so recovered by the plaintiff, shall be made forthwith by the treasurer of any such county, town, city or village, upon presentation of a certified copy thereof, without other or further order. The treasurer shall preserve said copy of said judgment as the treasurer's warrant for such payment and shall require the satisfaction of record of said judgment upon the making of such payment. The amount of any judgment so paid by the county treasurer shall be charged to the proper town, city or village and may be included by the county as a special charge against such town, city or village if such judgment shall be the result of an error or defect caused by said town, city or village or official thereof.
Ejectment as to public lands; conditions. 75.63(1)(a)
No action may be commenced, maintained or prosecuted by or on behalf of the original owner or any person claiming title through or under the original owner to recover possession of or in any way involving the title to any lands conveyed to this state by any county, or attempted to be so conveyed, and sold by this state to any person until all of the following have been paid into the treasury of the county where the lands are located:
All taxes levied and assessed on the lands from the date of the sale of the lands by the state.
All legal charges for assessing and collecting the taxes described in subd. 1, and interest thereon at the rate of 8 percent per year from the January 15 in each year during which the lands were assessed, commencing with the January following the first assessment after the sale.
All delinquent taxes levied upon and returned against the lands that were unpaid when the lands were conveyed or attempted to be conveyed to the state, together with interest on those delinquent taxes at the rate and in the manner described in subd. 2.
All money paid into a county treasury under par. (a)
shall be retained in the treasury pending the conclusion of the action described in par. (a) (intro.)
. The money shall be returned to the party paying or depositing the money if the party fails to maintain the action. If the action is maintained, an amount equal to the delinquent taxes and interest described in par. (a)
shall be retained by the county. The remainder shall be paid over to the person purchasing the lands from the state or that person's legal representatives.
If the title to any such lands shall be adjudged to be in such original owner or party claiming title through or under the original owner they shall be deemed to be and shall be subject to taxation during the time the same were held by the state in like manner as if they had not been conveyed to or held by it, and the taxes for such period shall be levied and assessed upon such lands and collected in like manner as other taxes upon real estate. In all such actions the court shall enter an order requiring the plaintiff therein, within a reasonable time to be fixed in the order, to comply with this section by payment of the taxes, charges and interest as provided herein, and in default of compliance therewith the court shall dismiss the action. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as amending or repealing s. 75.26
No jurisdiction; issue of deed postponed; deposit. 75.64(1)(1)
In all cases to set aside any inclusion of lands in a tax certificate, or to cancel any tax certificate or to enjoin or restrain the issuing of a tax deed because the lands included in the certificate were not liable to taxation or because the taxes on the lands were paid prior to the inclusion in the tax certificate or because the lands have been redeemed according to law, the owner of, or any person interested in, the lands covered by the lien of the certificate may, at any time before final judgment is entered, deposit with the county clerk the amount for which the lands are delinquent, with interest from the date of the inclusion in the tax certificate to the date of the deposit and penalty as provided under s. 74.47
, together with the legal charges on it.
The clerk or treasurer shall retain such deposit until the final determination of the action, and if the certificate is vacated and set aside or if the issuing of the deed is permanently restrained, the money deposited shall, at the time of entry of judgment or at any later time, upon demand, be returned to the person depositing it. If final judgment is rendered in the action sustaining the validity of the inclusion of the land in a tax certificate, and of the tax certificate, the court shall compute the interest upon the certificate from the date of the deposit to the date of judgment and penalty as provided under s. 74.47
and add it to the costs and disbursements taxable in the action and to the amount of the deposit, and shall enter judgment against the plaintiff for the total amount, and no tax deed may be issued upon the certificate unless the plaintiff fails to pay to the clerk or treasurer, for the use of the owner of the certificate, the amount of the judgment within 20 days after its rendition, together with interest on it.
History: 1981 c. 167
; 1987 a. 378
Procedure in populous counties containing authorized city. 75.67(1)(1)
In counties having a population of 750,000 or more containing a city authorized to proceed under s. 74.87
, whenever either such county or city acquires any property by tax deed or by quitclaim deed or by any other means, the issuance of other tax certificates and the redemption and cancellation thereof shall be as provided by this section.
All tax certificates issued upon such property by such county or city on the same day or subsequent to the date of issuance of the certificate upon which such deed was acquired, and which certificates are owned by such county or city at the time of the acquisition of the property, shall be assigned to such county or city so owning such property. On any issuance of tax certificate subsequent to the acquisition of such property after the first Monday of August in any year, such county or city so owning such land shall be the exclusive recipient of the tax certificates. Any issuance of a tax certificate in violation of these provisions shall be null and void. It is the duty of the city and the county treasurer to give the other, as the case may be, written notice of the acquisition of such property within 24 hours, Sundays and holidays excluded, after such tax deed or other conveyance has been acquired; and upon receipt of such notice it is the duty of such treasurer, as the case may be, to make entry of such notice upon the treasurer's records.
Whenever such property has been so acquired, the city treasurer shall notify the county clerk and the county treasurer, or the county clerk shall notify the city treasurer, as the case may be, in writing thereof within 24 hours thereafter, Sundays and holidays excluded. The county treasurer or the city treasurer upon receipt of such notice shall forthwith charge the amount, without interest or penalties, of all city, county, state and metropolitan sewerage district current and delinquent taxes, all unpaid installments of special assessments and other assessments, charges and tax certificates which are liens upon the land, and which are held by or due to such county or city, as the case may be, and upon which the time limitations of s. 75.20
have not expired, to a “tax deed in force" account, and such taxes, assessments and certificates shall thereby be considered as paid or redeemed and such taxes shall be marked paid or redeemed on the tax roll, as the case may be; thereafter the amounts thereof owned by or due to such county shall be charged back against such city and such amounts thereof owned or held by or due to such city shall be credited to such city in the next tax levy upon such city by the county.
On or before October 1 of each year, the city treasurer and the county treasurer shall respectively furnish the other with an itemized statement of the amounts so charged by the treasurer, as the case may be, to the city's or county's “tax deed in force" account as a result of tax deeds taken by the city or county. The county clerk shall include an itemized statement of such amounts in the apportionment filed by the clerk. If any such tax deed is set aside, the city treasurer and the county treasurer shall respectively credit the other with the amounts so charged with respect to the deed set aside, and the amounts and entries by either treasurer with reference thereto, comprising said amounts shall be as though no charge had been made to a “tax deed in force" account; and the city treasurer and the county treasurer, respectively, shall, on or before October 1 of each year, advise the other of such credits due.
In the event that such property is so acquired by such city while the county tax roll is in the possession of its city treasurer, the latter shall consider such taxes as paid and mark the tax roll accordingly, and furnish the county treasurer with a statement thereof upon a form provided by the county. The city treasurer shall return such records to the county treasurer with the delinquent county tax roll, and shall receive credit therefor the same as for delinquent taxes. The amount for which such credit is given shall be included in the amount to be charged back to such city in succeeding apportionment of county taxes.
Sale of tax delinquent real estate. 75.69(1)(1)
Except as provided in sub. (1m)
, no tax delinquent real estate acquired by a county may be sold unless the sale and appraised value of such real estate has first been advertised by publication of a class 3 notice, under ch. 985
. Any county may accept the bid most advantageous to it but, at the first attempt to sell the property, every bid less than the appraised value of the property shall be rejected. Any county is authorized to sell for any amount any land previously advertised for sale after advertising the sale of such land by publication of a class 1 notice, under ch. 985
; except that no property may be sold for an amount that is less than the property's appraised value unless the county board or a committee designated by the county board has reviewed and approved such a sale and no property may be sold for an amount that is less than the amount of the highest bid unless the county board or a committee designated by the county board prepares a written statement, available for public inspection, that explains the reasons for accepting a bid that is less than the highest bid. In this subsection, “appraised value" means the value determined, at the discretion of the county board, by the county board, a committee designated by the county board, or a certified appraiser, as defined in s. 458.01 (7)
does not apply to counties with a population of 750,000 or more.
Notwithstanding sub. (1)
, any county may advertise the sale of any or all of its real estate that has been tax delinquent for at least 4 years by publishing a class 3 notice under ch. 985
, indicating in which municipality or municipalities and in which ward or wards the real estate is located and the place and date for filing written bids but without listing specific parcels or appraised values for the parcels, if the county makes readily available in the courthouse a list of the parcels and the appraised value of each parcel.
This section shall not apply to exchange of property under s. 59.69 (8)
, to withdrawal and sale of county forest lands, nor to the sale or exchange of lands to or between municipalities or to the state.
This section shall apply to all tax delinquent lands regardless of the date of acquisition by the county.
No tax delinquent real estate may be sold by a county under this section unless notice of such sale is mailed to the clerk of the municipality in which the real estate is located at least 3 weeks prior to the time of the sale. Any county may sell tax delinquent real estate by open or closed bid.
Counties may not transfer county owned mineral rights, acquired through nonpayment of taxes to private persons without following the appraisal and public sale provisions of this section. 67 Atty. Gen. 236.
When a county proceeds under sub. (1), it can accept a bid it considers, in good faith, to be most advantageous to the county in view of the criteria in the bid notice. 70 Atty. Gen. 1.