In California, if I no longer own my home walked away and lost in foreclosure, I responsible for past delinquent taxes?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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In California, if I no longer own my home walked away and lost in foreclosure, I responsible for past delinquent taxes?

During the real estate crisis, about 7-8 years ago, I lost my home to
foreclosure. I basically walked away from the home. Am I responsible for paying
any back taxes that I owed when the house was taken by the bank? Currently, the
City of San Bernardino has been intercepting my California tax refund for those
taxes. I don’t own the home. It was my understanding that property taxes remain
with the property and is a lien against the property not the previous owner.
Please help.

Asked on August 18, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You are not quite right. While a lien is imposed on the property which must be paid off to sell or transfer it with clean title, IN ADDITION to that, the government can hold the owner who incurred the taxes personally liable and take the money from him or her. You are liable because you failed to pay; the lien is a mechanism the government may use to make sure they are paid but that does not take away or absolve your liability. They can have it both ways: lien the property while pursuing you (and your money) personally. It's the same as with a mortgage: if a mortgage is not paid, the mortgagee (lender) can foreclose and sell the house at auction to recoup some or all of its money, but they don't have to--they could opt to sue the defaulting mortgagor (owners), too or instead; or they could collect any amount not cleared up/paid off by foreclosure from the owners. You cannot escape your liability for the amounts due simply by losing the property.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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