WELLSBORO - Chief Assessor Deb Crawford wants the public to know that those who own mobile homes and plan to sell or move could continue to get property tax bills if they fail to get a trailer release from their tax collector.
If they do not get the permit, "we would not know there is a new owner," Crawford said, "(and) if they move the trailer without the release, they end up still being assessed for it on that property."
It can get even more complicated if a parcel of real property is sold.
"If they do a deed transfer on the parcel of land the mobile home is sitting on, the deeds do not reflect there is a mobile home there, so without it the home would stay in the old owners name and the land would be transferred," she said.
According to Crawford, "most people don't know they need a trailer release and so keeping track of mobile homes is a huge problem for most counties."
The same holds true for any other disposition of a mobile home, such as demolishing it.
"They continue to get tax bills and when they contact us to say it is gone, then we will go out and check and see to it that it is gone, and we make the change in the tax rolls," she said.
Crawford gave a recent example of a mobile home that changed ownership three times in the last two years and back taxes are owed on it.
"We put an 'in care of' the last owner on it when we send the bill and when they don't pay, the mobile home goes up for tax sale," she said.
Most of what the county ends up selling at tax sale are mobile homes, she added.
"First it goes to upset sale then judicial sale, and once it goes to judicial sale, it is too late for the homeowner to purchase it," she said.
Once the property goes to the repository of unsold properties, it sits until someone puts a bid on it.
The bids can be as low as $50, Crawford added.
"Once it is sold for whatever, it becomes assessed at that value," she said.
People can find listings of repository properties either at the assessment office at the Tioga County Courthouse, or online at www.tiogacountypa.us, tax claim department, Crawford said.
It takes two years of not paying property taxes or setting up an agreement with the assessment office to pay before the property is listed for upset sale.
"If you do set up an agreement, you have to pay on time, and due dates are set up quarterly, but the assessment office is flexible," she said, and will take smaller payments in between as long as it adds up to the quarterly payment.
"If you miss a payment, you get 10 days after a reminder notice is set up, and if you still don't pay, you are defaulted and cannot have another agreement for three years," Crawford said.
In addition, Crawford said property owners who have lived in their primary residence more than 50 percent of the year, may qualify for a homestead exemption if they apply for it when the school district sends out the applications each year.
She said the school district mails applications to those not already in the program in December, but the applications must be postmarked by March 1.
She noted that many seniors are deeding their property to their children, and they still pay the property taxes, but there needs to be a "life lease" inclusion in the deed for them to qualify for the homestead exemption, and the same holds true for those with an irrevocable trust.
Seniors also can qualify for the state offered rent and real estate tax rebate, and she said information on that program is available through Rep Matthew E. Baker, R-Wellsboro.
In addition, the deadline to apply for inclusion in the Clean and Green program is June 1.
People can get out of the Clean and Green program, but they have to pay seven years of rollback taxes and penalties if they do.