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In Re Application of County Collector

FEBRUARY 20, 1970.

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF THE COUNTY COLLECTOR FOR JUDGMENT AND SALE AGAINST LANDS AND LOTS RETURNED DELINQUENT FOR NONPAYMENT OF GENERAL TAXES FOR THE YEAR 1962 AND PRIOR YEARS. PETITION OF GERALDINE D. HOFFMANN FOR A TAX DEED. GERALDINE D. HOFFMANN, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

HELEN E. STUCKSLAGER AND WALTER N. STUCKSLAGER, OBJECTORS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, County Department, Law Division; the Hon. JAMES E. MURPHY, Judge, presiding. Judgment reversed and cause remanded with directions.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE CRAVEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Helen E. Stuckslager and Walter N. Stuckslager, her husband, appeal from a judgment order decreeing that Edward J. Barrett, County Clerk of Cook County, issue to Geraldine D. Hoffmann a tax deed to certain real estate.

The order found that at a sale of the lot for nonpayment of general real estate taxes assessed and levied for the year 1962, Interstate Bond Company purchased the real estate; that it assigned the certificate of purchase to petitioner, Geraldine D. Hoffmann; that the time of redemption had expired; that all notices required by law had been given; and that petitioner Hoffmann had complied with all provisions of law entitling her to a tax deed.

The appellants contend that the sale and certificate of purchase issued thereon are invalid, null and void since the tax-sale purchaser did not, on the date of offer for sale, forthwith pay in cash to the County Collector for taxes, interest and costs as advertised in the sale, as required by Section 247 of the Revenue Act of 1939, as amended (Ill Rev Stats 1965, c 120, par 728); that the notice served on the husband, Walter N. Stuckslager, did not comply with the statutory requirements since he was not specifically named therein although he had only an inchoate dower interest in the lot and the notice actually was served on him; and that the zoning use of the lot, due to its size and other zoning requirements, would prohibit use of the lot for a single-family dwelling.

We cannot condone the nonpayment of taxes where lawfully due, nor the failure of the owners of the real estate to pay the same over the intervening period of some four years prior to this proceeding, yet we are bound by the strict statutory language applicable.

Titles based upon a tax deed are authorized by statute in order to provide revenue to the taxing bodies. A tax-sale purchaser must strictly follow all requirements of the applicable statutes in order that he may thus be vested with title contrary to the rights of the theretofore rightful owner.

Paragraph 716a of chapter 120, Ill Rev Stats 1965, provides that:

"The County Collector shall include in the advertisement and in the application for judgment for sale under this section the total amount of all general taxes upon said tracts of land or lots which are delinquent as of the date of the advertisement; . . ."

Paragraph 726 of chapter 120, Ill Rev Stats 1965, provides that a person offering to pay the amount due on each tract or lot for the least percentage interest penalty upon redemption thereon shall be the purchaser (except no bid shall be accepted for a penalty greater than twelve per cent of the amount of the tax). Thus, the purchaser's bid is a percentage and not an amount in dollars.

Paragraph 728 of chapter 120, Ill Rev Stats 1965, provides:

"The person purchasing any tract or lot, . . . shall forthwith pay to the collector the amount charged on such tract or lot, and on failure so to do, the tract or lot shall be again offered for sale in the same manner as if no such sale had been made; and in no case shall the sale be closed until payment is made, or the tract or lot again offered for sale. Provided, in counties having a population of 500,000 or more, . . . only the taxes, special assessments, interest and costs as advertised in the sale shall be required to be paid forthwith in cash. The general taxes charged on the land remaining due and unpaid, not included in the advertisement, shall be paid by the purchaser within 10 days after the sale, . . . ."

Thereafter the section provides for an extension of the 10 days in certain situations, and provides that if the purchaser fails to complete his purchase it shall become void but the collector "shall not refund the amount paid in cash at the time of the sale, except in cases of sale in error. . . ."

It seems clear that the Legislature, in enacting these provisions, deemed it desirable that in a county of large population, doubtless due to the large number of probable tax sales, the purchaser at a tax sale pay in cash on the day of sale the amount for which sale of the lot was advertised and that a period thereafter (such as the minimum of 10 days after sale) be given for the collector to make his up-to-date of sale calculations of any additional taxes, interest and costs due since the date of application for sale and advertisement. No doubt, also, the immediate cash payment on date of sale is required because presumably that would constitute the major amount to be paid. Also, the purchaser would have paid and could not change his mind in the making of the purchase. In any event, the statutory provisions clearly constitute a statutory framework and schedule that contemplate first an advertisement of the sale which includes the total amount "charged," the payment of that amount by the purchaser at the time ...


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