Partnership with Treasurer’s Office Reduces Tax Foreclosures

Spokane County Treasurer, Michael Baumgartner

According to the Spokane County Treasurer’s Office, there are currently 55 properties in tax foreclosure. This is a number the office expects to decrease as they work with property owners ahead of the December tax foreclosure auction.

SNAP is all-too aware of the hardship that tax foreclosure places on our most vulnerable neighbors, so SNAP Financial Access has implemented programs to reduce the likelihood of tax foreclosure. We are fortunate to have forged a partnership with the Spokane County Treasurer’s Office to help in these endeavors. By giving these individuals a loan for the amount of the taxes, SNAP can ensure the client has enough money to pay back their taxes. By connecting this loan to an escrow account, SNAP ensures the client does not fall into delinquency again.

The Washington State Legislature states that taxes on real property which are three-and-a-half or more years delinquent are subject to foreclosure. As SNAP’s housing counselors explain, most of the properties that have delinquent tax accounts also have free and clear mortgages. Mortgage companies will typically pay the taxes to keep the home from going into tax foreclosure, so this is an expense that usually strikes our neighbors with the most limited of incomes,

“Many seniors don’t have a mortgage, but do have fixed incomes,” explains Dale Raugust, SNAP Housing counselor. “Without a mortgage the taxes are not paid monthly and a delinquency can occur.”

Because tax foreclosures affect such a specific group of individuals, informing our neighbors about our tax delinquency loans has been a challenge that our partnership with the Spokane County Treasurer’s Office has helped to resolve.

Spokane County Treasurer Michael Baumgartner and his staff have worked closely with SNAP Housing counselors to access our most up-to-date brochures to include in their delinquency announcements and at their service desks.

“The tax foreclosure specialist at the Treasurer’s Office is very nice,” Raugust says. “We call her all the time to ask: ‘What’s the balance? How much is owed? What’s the deadline?’ And she’s always very pleasant!” Raugust adds with a laugh.

The Treasurer’s Office offers far more than smiling faces, pleasant attitudes, and a judgment-free space. Baumgartner’s office offers three suggestion and options for those concerned they may face tax foreclosure:

  • Partial payments are accepted towards property taxes. Partial payments allow a property owner to make payments of any amount towards their tax balance and may keep a property from entering tax foreclosure.
  • You may qualify for a senior or disabled persons property tax exemption on your home if you meet certain age and income requirements. Taxpayers apply for the exemption with the County Assessor’s Office.
  • Tax foreclosure begins when a property tax payment is delinquent for over three and a half years. Contact the Treasurer’s Office as soon as you may be experiencing difficulty paying your taxes for all available options.

SNAP and the Treasurer’s Office work in tandem to reduce the number of tax foreclosures faced by our most sensitive neighbors. For additional updates on taxpayer assistance programs, join Treasurer Baumgartner at a Taxpayer Town Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at Spokane Valley City Hall from 4-6 p.m. SNAP housing counselors will be in attendance to share information on foreclosure prevention services and to answer your questions. Learn more here.