Tax Lien Tutorial

  • Introduction

    The Tax Lien Sale provides for the payment of delinquent property taxes by an investor. The tax on the property is auctioned in open competitive bidding based on the least percent of interest to be received by the investor.

    Property taxes that are delinquent at the end of December are added to any previously uncollected taxes on a parcel for the Tax Lien Sale. The sale takes place online in February of each year. Please read the disclaimer before deciding to bid, and see our lien FAQ page and lien history page.

    Parcels whose taxes are subject to sale will be advertised, in January, in a Maricopa County newspaper of general circulation.

    The advertisement appears in the Arizona Business Gazette about three weeks before the auction and is also posted at .

    Copies of the newspaper are usually available for purchase at the Treasurer's Office. In addition, a CD of those parcels (Tax sale advertising list) can also be purchased.

    The investor is responsible for all research on the parcels available for auction. County maps for research may be found by visiting the Maricopa County Assessor's website. Read our Recommendations to all bidders.

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  • Pre-sale Requirements

    To be eligible to bid, investors must provide the Treasurer's Office with a completed Bidder Information Card and Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification in the form of IRS Form W-9, IRS Form W-8BEN (for Foreign Individuals), or IRS Form W-8BEN-E (for Foreign Entities).

    A number will be assigned to each bidder for use when purchasing tax liens.

    Registration is processed through the Treasurer’s Office, except during the Tax Sale, the month of February. Then, during the Tax Sale, registration will be processed through

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  • Proxy Bid Procedure

    In a live auction, a bidder will lower his bid by one percent increments until he is the only bidder left or until the interest goes below his acceptable minimum level, at which point he would drop out. Proxy bidding is a form of competitive sale in which bidders enter the minimum interest rate that they are willing to accept for each certificate. The auction system acts as an electronic agent, submitting bids on behalf of each bidder. The result of the proxy system is that the electronic agent keeps lowering the bid to submit by one percent increments until you are either the only bidder left, (in which case you get the certificate at one percent lower than the previous bid) or until you reach the floor you have set. Zero percent bids will not be treated as proxy bids. They will be awarded at zero.

    If you are the only bidder on a given certificate and your minimum rate is greater than zero percent, the electronic agent will submit a bid of 16% on your behalf.

    In the case of a tie at the winning bid rate, the system awards to one of the tie bidders through a random selection process using a random number generator.

    In no case will a bidder be awarded a certificate at a rate lower than his specified minimum acceptable rate.

    Certificates that receive no bids will be "struck to the state" at 16%.

    The successful bidder will pay the entire amount of taxes, interest, and fees via ACH debit by the end of the next business day. Fees include a non-refundable/non-interest earning Tax Payer Information Fee of $5.00/10.00 as per ARS 42-18122B. If payment has not been made, the parcel(s) may be re-offered.

    The sale will continue until all liens are sold or the lack of bidding warrants discontinuing the sale.

    Each investor will receive an Outstanding Portfolio Report identifying each parcel for which the investor had acquired a tax lien.

    When making an inquiry on a property, use the parcel number located in the left column of the Portfolio.

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  • Bid Interest

    Bids must be on the basis of interest income to bidder.

    The maximum bid is 16% simple interest per annum, prorated monthly. The lowest acceptable bid is 0% per annum.

    The successful (lowest) bid will determine the rate of interest to be paid on the Tax Lien, representing the amount of taxes, interest, fees and charges then due.

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  • Redemption of Liens

    If the owner and/or agent redeems the property, the investor receives a payment of what they paid for the lien, less the processing fee, plus the prorated monthly rate of interest that was awarded at the sale.

    The lien bears interest at the bid rate from the first day of the month following the purchase of the tax lien.

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  • Deeds

    When a property owner fails to redeem the CP prior to the expiration of three years from the date the parcel was first offered at sale, the investor may apply for a court ordered deed to the property (judicial foreclosure).

    As of December 31, 2003, the Treasurer's Office does not issue Treasurer's deeds on buyer purchased CPs. All buyer foreclosures are judicial.

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  • Assignments

    Assignments offer the investor an alternative way to purchase liens on parcels at a time other than the Tax Lien sale.

    The unsold parcels "struck off to state" (State CPs) at the Tax Lien sale are available to investors by assignment. Assignments will be available upon completion of all Sale Week transactions.

    Assignment purchases may be made in person or by mail. Payment must accompany the request. Available parcels are listed as "STATE CP" on a printout located in the Client Services Department of the Treasurer's Office. To verify availability of a STATE CP, create a parcel’s redemption statement looking for liens that show as “….sold to the State of Arizona”.

    This listing is available in a CD format for $50 each. It lists the tax amount and year involved. The buyer will pay the entire amount of taxes, interest, and fees due at the date of the assignment. Assignment purchases are not allowed during the tax sale auction. NOTE: If a parcel also has current delinquent taxes in addition to "State CP" taxes, the investor is required by Treasurer policy to purchase both after June 1, and prevent the parcel from going to the Tax Lien Sale.

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  • Assignment Purchasing

    The buyer will submit a list of desired parcels to the Treasurer's Office, along with a cashier's check, personal check, business check, money order, or certified check, for the approximate total. The submittals will be recorded and processed in the order in which they are received. Should the original payment be in excess of the amount due, a refund will be returned to the lien holder.

    Assignment purchases are processed up to the amount received.

    Parcels not covered by funds on hand are available to other buyers. The interest earned on an assignment will be the current statutory maximum (16%). "Assignment" must be specified to prevent an inadvertent processing of a redemption of a Certificate of Purchase.

    All mailed-in purchase requests must be sent to the Maricopa County Treasurer, Attn: Tax Lien Department, 301 W. Jefferson Street, Suite 140, Phoenix, AZ 85003-2199.

    Please use the format below when submitting a purchase request.

    Parcel number(s) Certificate of purchase number Certificate of purchase total amount Plus $10 per C.P. Total amount CP Buyer Number

    Make sure to include the following information:
    Contact person's name
    Current daytime phone number
    e-Mail address

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  • Re-Assignment (Transfer of Ownership) Affidavit Requirements

    If not redeemed, a CP may be trasferred by affidavit to another person who has a bidder identification card on file with the Treasurer's office.

    We do not have a pre-made form for the reassignment of a Certificate of Purchase. The current lien holder will need to create one. The affidavit should include the:

    Date Current CP Buyer #, name, address and notarized signature The new CP Buyer #, name, address and signature The parcel #, CP #

    There is a $10.00 transfer fee for each CP#. The out of office negotiations are agreements solely between the current and new lien holders. The Treasurer's Office simply processes the reassignments.

    It usually takes a few days to complete the reassignment process, you are welcome to mail or walk in your reassignment request. We will notify you by email when it is complete.

    If the lien is redeemed during the transition period, the Treasurer pays the redeemed taxes to the last CP holder on record. The $10 fee would be refunded to whichever lien holder paid the fee.

    The Treasurer's Office must be notified of the transfer with an original affidavit for it to be valid.

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  • Purchasing Delinquent Taxes for Subsequent Years

    Any party holding a Certificate of Purchase (CP) on a delinquent tax lien for a prior tax year may purchase the delinquent tax for a subsequent year.

    A subsequent year’s tax (sub-tax) can be added to an existing CP beginning on June 1 and ending on January 18. Subsequent year liens not sub-taxed will go to the next tax lien auction in February. The interest earned on a sub-tax is the same as that of the original CP.

    The person wishing to sub-tax is responsible for determining the amount due for the fixed amounts of taxes and fees, and the interest accrued based upon the date of the sub-tax purchase. Interest is on the total tax amount and accrues on the first day of each subsequent month. The fee for each sub-tax is $5.00.

    There are two ways to sub-tax:

    1. In the Treasurer’s office using computer terminals located in our lobby. Instructions and assistance are available.
    2. Send a list of desired purchases and payment to:
         Maricopa County Treasurer
         Attention: Tax Lien Department
         301 W. Jefferson Street, Suite 140
         Phoenix, AZ 85003-2199

    Please use the format below when submitting a purchase request.

    Parcel number(s) Certificate of Purchase number Total Amount of taxes & interest plus a $5.00 sub-tax fee per parcel Buyer number

    Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office recommends using EXCEL or one of the other spreadsheet programs when using OPTION 2. This will increase the accuracy and timeliness of processing your request.

    The amount due is on our website at: To retrieve the “Tax Summary” page for a parcel, you can click here and enter a "Parcel #", or you can go to our Homepage and enter a "Parcel #" in the "Taxpayer" panel. From June through August, if there is a dollar amount printed in red in the upper right column, there is a delinquency eligible for sub-taxing. After August, the new tax year amounts are added to our website. You will now need to look for the "unpaid tax" line for the prior tax year to determine the amount to sub-tax. A redemption statement is another source used to determine sub-tax purchase amounts. That amount, plus the $5.00 fee, is the total amount necessary to sub-tax. Personal and business checks are accepted.

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  • Transfer of Certificates of Purchase

    If not redeemed, a CP may be transferred by affidavit to another person who has a Bidder Identification Card on file with the Treasurer's Office.

    There is a $10.00 transfer fee per CP.

    The Treasurer's Office must be presented with the original, notarized Affidavit of Assignment signed by the seller. The Treasurer pays the redeemed taxes to the last CP holder on record.

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  • Monthly Activity Statement and Outstanding Portfolio Report

    An Activity Statement will be created for each CP buyer, listing their redemptions, purchases, surrenders, expirations, and extinguishments. These statements can be viewed on the Maricopa County Treasurer's Tax Lien Web site. Only those accounts with activity in the last month will have a report available on the Tax Lien Web site. Outstanding Portfolio Reports will also be available for active buyers.

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The Maricopa County Treasurer has made every effort to ensure that the information contained on this Web site is accurate and current. However, the Treasurer’s Office does not guarantee that each and every item of information is completely accurate. Therefore, the user is advised to make his or her own independent analysis and investigation prior to reliance on this information. The Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office hereby disclaims liability for any damages, direct or indirect, arising from use of or reliance upon this information.

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Parcel number 123-45-678 9, can be entered as 123 45 678

Parcel number 123-45-678a 9, can be entered as 123 45 678 a

For Mobile Home/Business Personal Property - Use the personal property roll number with a prefix of 9 as the parcel number.
Example: Roll number 60-00-001 8 can be entered as 960 00 001.

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