- Posted by Dan
- On March 20, 2013
- 0 Comments
Everyone knows that you’ve got to pay taxes right?
Well, almost everyone.
Sevierville attorney Dan Scott reports that the Tennessee Court of Appeals once again confirmed that if you fail to repay property taxes you can lose your real property forever.
In the case of Ruby Lois Dye v. Leonard Waldo, et al, the Court was faced with a claim made by Ruby Dye that she owned an additional 19.2 acres of property that adjoined the property that was described in her deed. Dye acquired her property in 1988 and the description in the deed did not include this 19.2 acres she was claiming to own in this case. What’s more, is that she never paid any property taxes on the 19.2 acres.
In fact, the Defendants (the persons Dye sued) had paid all the taxes for the property in dispute for over 22 consecutive years.
Is this a land grab case?
So the case looks like it was perhaps a land grab by Dye. The Court found it interesting that “Dock W. Smith had previously completed a survey on Dye’s property in December 2009. Upon review of the survey, Dye made no assertion as to any alleged property to be in dispute and accepted the facts as to the size, location, and acreage of her property.”
Dye asserted that she owned the property as a result of a doctrine called adverse possession. However she put on essentially no proof that she had actually exercised control of the property for over 7 years.
When the case went to trial, the Defendants did not put on any proof. Instead when Dye rested her case, the Defendants made a motion asking the court to find that Dye was completely barred from making the claim because she failed to pay taxes on the property for over 22 years. The statute relied upon by the Defendants is TCA 28-2-109 entitled, Presumption of Ownership from payment of Taxes, which provides that:
Any person holding any real estate or land of any kind, or any legal or equitable interest therein, who has paid, or who and those through whom such person claims have paid, the state and county taxes on the same for more than twenty (20) years continuously prior to the date when any question arises in any of the courts of this state concerning the same, and who has had or who and those through whom such person claims have had, such person’s deed, conveyance, grant or other assurance of title recorded in the register’s office of the county in which the land lies, for such period of more than twenty (20) years, shall be presumed prima facie to be the legal owner of such land.
The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that Dye could not maintain her claim. The Court found the statute mentioned above was a complete bar to recovery.
This seems like the correct result based upon the facts recited in the Court’s opinion. You can read or download the Court Opinion here.
LESSON LEARNED: If you think you own property you better pay taxes on it!
Attorney Dan Scott has been serving folks in Sevier, Knox, Jefferson and Blount County for over 25 years.