History: 1987 a. 378
Action, where and how brought.
Such action must be brought in the circuit court of the county in which the lands or some parcel of them, the title of which is sought to be barred by such action, are situated. The county, as plaintiff in such action, may include in its complaint all the lands described in such conveyance, or any separate parcel, or as many separate parcels thereof as it sees fit. The county shall make defendants of all persons who were the former owners of the several parcels of land included in the complaint or those claiming under them or claiming any interest therein.
History: 1987 a. 378
The complaint in such action shall contain: a description of all the lands the title to which is sought to be barred by such action; a statement that the county claims title to such lands under a deed made by the county clerk and a copy of such deed; the name or names of the former owner or owners of the several tracts of land described therein or the names of the persons claiming under such owner or owners, specifying the persons claiming each separate parcel thereof; and the amount of all delinquent taxes at the time the deed was issued.
History: 1987 a. 378
Defense, answer. 75.42(1)(1)
The defendants in such action may answer severally, or such of them as are jointly interested in any separate parcel or parcels of land described in the complaint may answer jointly, either to the whole complaint or to any separate cause of action stated therein, that the action thereon was not commenced within the time limited by s. 75.39
; that the lands described in such complaint or some part or parts thereof to which the defendant or defendants so answering claim title or some interest therein were not liable to taxation at the time the tax for the nonpayment of which the land was included in a tax certificate and conveyed as specified in the complaint was levied; or that the tax for the nonpayment of which said lands purport to have been included in a tax certificate was in fact paid before the land was included in the certificate; or that the land was redeemed as provided by law; or that the deed, a copy of which is set forth in the complaint, was never executed by the officer whose name is subscribed thereto; or that the lands described in the complaint or some part thereof were improved, occupied or cultivated as described in s. 75.12 (1)
, and that no notice was served upon the defendant or owner or occupant, as required by s. 75.12
, and no other defense to such action shall be set up by any defendant or defendants unless the defendant or defendants setting up the same shall, at the time of filing the answer, deposit with the clerk of the court in which such action is pending, for the use of the county as plaintiff in such action, the amount of all delinquent taxes, plus interest and penalty, due on the parcel or parcels of land as to which they defend, at the time the deed was issued, together with interest thereon at the rate of 8 percent per year from the date of the tax certificate upon which such deed was issued; and shall state in the answer the fact that such deposit has been made, and the amount thereof, and that such defendant is ready to pay such portion of the costs and disbursements in the action as shall be adjudged just and reasonable, in case the county shall elect to receive such deposit and release to said defendant or defendants the parcel or parcels of land on account of which such deposit is made; and any defendant or defendants making the deposit and offer aforesaid may set up in their answer any other matter of defense which will avoid such deed; but no answer merely alleging the defendant's title, or denying the county's title to the lands described in such complaint, or any part or parcel thereof, or which merely alleges that the deed to the county is void shall be a sufficient answer; but every answer shall state specifically the grounds on which the defendant or defendants rely for avoiding the deed of the county.
The defendant may, in all cases within the time limited by law for answering the complaint, execute and deliver to the county a quitclaim deed of the lands described in the complaint, conveying all the right, title and interest of such defendant at the time of the commencement of the suit; or may, within such time, either after having delivered such deed or without such delivery, answer disclaiming any title to the land in question at the time of the commencement of the suit, in either of which cases the county shall not recover costs personally against any such defendant who quitclaims as aforesaid or who shall establish such disclaimer upon the trial of such action. In no case shall costs be taxed as a personal claim against any defendant for attorney fees in excess of $25.
History: 1979 c. 110
s. 60 (13)
; 1987 a. 378
Election to receive deposit; costs.
The county may, at any time within 20 days after receiving an answer showing that a deposit has been made by any defendant or defendants as provided in s. 75.42
, give notice to such defendant or defendants that it elects to receive such deposit and that it will, at a time specified in such notice, apply to the clerk of the circuit court, circuit judge or a circuit court commissioner to adjust the costs and disbursements which said defendant or defendants ought to pay, and that upon the payment of the costs and disbursements so adjudged the county will release to such defendant or defendants all right, title and claim which it has to the parcel or parcels of land on account of which the deposit is made by virtue of any deed made for the nonpayment of taxes; and unless the costs are paid within 20 days after the same shall have been so adjusted the clerk of the court shall, upon presentation of an affidavit showing the nonpayment thereof, enter judgment therefor in favor of the county and against the defendant, which shall be enforced as other money judgments.
History: 1987 a. 378
; 2001 a. 61
On the payment of the costs by such defendant or defendants or the collection thereof the county shall execute a release to said defendant or defendants of all such right, title, interest or claim in said parcel or parcels of lands, duly acknowledging the same, and deliver it to the said defendant or defendants; and thereupon said action shall be discontinued as to the said parcel or parcels of land so released.
History: 1987 a. 378
Deed as evidence.
In any action maintained under the provisions of this chapter the production of a deed, a copy of which is set forth in the complaint substantially in the form prescribed by law or a certified copy of the record thereof, shall be presumptive evidence of an absolute title in fee simple in the county, as the grantee therein named or its assigns in and to the land therein described.
History: 1987 a. 378
Trial; defendant's interest.
All issues of fact and of law joined in any such action shall be tried by the court unless the court shall otherwise direct or unless a party to an issue of fact in any such action shall demand a trial by jury, in which case such issues shall be tried by jury as other issues of fact; and on the trial of every such action every defendant shall be deemed to have a redeemable interest in all the lands described in the county's complaint in respect to which any relief or judgment is sought against such defendant, unless it be otherwise alleged therein.
History: 1987 a. 378
The trial of any issue of fact or of law in such action joined with any defendant or defendants claiming title to and defending as to any separate parcel or parcels of land shall be had separately and a separate judgment may be rendered on such issue.
Effect of judgment.
If a judgment shall be rendered either for want of an answer or upon the trial of an issue of law or fact in favor of the county and against the defendants claiming such lands or against a defendant or defendants claiming any separate parcel or parcels thereof, such judgment shall forever bar such defendants and all others claiming under them, after the filing of a notice of the pendency of such action as provided by law, from all right, title or interest in said lands or in such separate parcel or parcels thereof.
History: 1987 a. 378
Judgment for defendant.
If in any such action judgment be rendered in favor of any defendant claiming any parcel or parcels of said lands or interest therein, such judgment shall adjudge that there be released to such defendant all the county's right, title or claim, at the time of the commencement of the action, by virtue of any deed made for the nonpayment of taxes to the land or interest as to which such judgment is rendered, and that the defendant recover the defendant's costs and disbursements in the action; and the money, if any, deposited by such defendant upon answering shall be applied in payment of such costs, and the surplus of such deposit, if any, shall be paid to the county.
History: 1987 a. 378
If the county as plaintiff in such action cannot ascertain who are the proper persons to make defendants as to any tract or parcel of land described in the complaint, it may allege the fact in the complaint and they may be proceeded against as nonresident defendants and shall be described in the proceedings as unknown owners.
History: 1987 a. 378
Judgment a bar, when.
No such action shall be commenced by any person under the provisions of this chapter after a judgment shall have been rendered against that person in any action founded on such tax deed commenced by that person or those under whom that person claims for the recovery of the possession of the lands described in such deed or any part thereof, nor after a judgment shall have been rendered against that person in an action brought by the former owner to recover possession of the lands described in such deed or any part thereof.
History: 1991 a. 316
Foreclosure of tax liens by action in rem. 75.521(1)(1)
Wherever used or referred to in this section, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:
“County" means one of the counties of the state of Wisconsin.
“Tax lien" means the lien or interest evidenced by any tax certificate upon which a tax deed may be applied for as provided by law.
“Treasurer" means the treasurer of a county.
Adoption of method.
Notwithstanding the provisions of any other general, special or local law relating to foreclosure of tax certificates, taking of tax deeds upon tax certificates, and perfecting such tax deed title by bar former owner action or quiet title action, or conveyance from former owners of any interest in said lands, the governing body of any county may elect to enforce the collection of tax liens, the taking of tax title in the name of such county to tax delinquent lands and the perfecting of such tax title in the county in the cases where this section applies by means of the methods provided for in this section. Such election shall be evidenced by an ordinance to such effect in substantially the following form:
“ORDINANCE ELECTING TO PROCEED UNDER
SECTION 75.521 Wis. Stats. IN RELATION TO
THE ENFORCEMENT OF COLLECTION OF TAX LIENS.
The county board of supervisors of the county of .... do ordain as follows:
From and after .... (here insert dates) the .... (here insert name of county) elects to adopt the provisions of section 75.521 Wis. Stats. for the purpose of enforcing tax liens in such county in the cases where the procedure provided by such section is applicable."
Upon the adoption of such ordinance, the provisions of this section shall be applicable to such county and the treasurer need not, thereafter, proceed upon its tax certificates in cases where this section is applicable in any of the other methods provided by ch. 75
or its charter provisions but may do so at the treasurer's option.
Rescission of election to operate under section 75.521.
Any county, after at least one year from the adoption of such ordinance, may rescind such election by an ordinance to such effect, which ordinance shall be adopted in the same manner as the original ordinance. Upon the adoption of a rescinding ordinance, the provisions of this section shall cease to be applicable to such county.
Neither the election to adopt s. 75.521
nor the election to rescind the same shall affect any action or proceeding for foreclosure of the tax lien commenced prior to such election or rescission and such action or proceeding may be continued in the same manner as though such election or rescission had not been made.
Provisions of in rem method supersede.
Whenever any county shall have adopted this section and is using the procedure herein provided, the provisions of this section shall, with respect to the particular tax liens being collected, supersede the provisions of all general, special or local laws relating to the collection of tax liens by such county in conflict therewith, provided that nothing contained in this subsection nor any use made of the procedure provided in this section shall prevent the use of other procedures provided for in other sections of the statutes in the collection of other tax liens at the option of the county treasurer.
(3) Commencement of proceeding to foreclose tax lien. 75.521(3)(a)(a)
Whenever any land has been included in a tax certificate, the treasurer may file in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of the county, one or more lists of parcels of property affected by unpaid tax liens as shown on the tax certificates in the treasurer's office. The treasurer may file the list when any of the following time periods elapses after the date of the tax certificate:
One year, if razing, removing and restoration of the site to a dust-free and erosion-free condition costs incurred by any city or village are included in the amount due for taxes.
One year, if the tax certificate is held by any city authorized to proceed under s. 74.87
or by any county that has a population of 750,000 or more.
Two years, if none of the conditions specified in subds. 1.
The parcels shall be numbered consecutively in the list prepared under par. (a)
. The list shall be known as the “List of Tax Liens of .... County Being Foreclosed by Proceeding in Rem .... (year) No. ...." and shall bear the following caption:
“State of Wisconsin
In the matter of the foreclosure of tax liens under section 75.521 Wisconsin Statutes by .... County, List of Tax Liens for .... (year), Number ....". The list shall contain as to each parcel, the following:
A brief description sufficient to identify each parcel affected by such tax lien. The description shall state the lot, block and section number of any parcel upon any tract, the plat or map of which is
recorded and filed in the office of the register of deeds of such county. If the lands be unplatted an engineer's metes and bounds description shall be a sufficient description.
The name or names of the last owner or owners and mortgagee or mortgagees of the parcel as the ownership or mortgage interest appears of record in the office of the register of deeds of the county in which the parcel is situated, and the state of Wisconsin if it has a determined but unpaid death tax lien, a filed, nonoutlawed income or franchise tax warrant or a judgment entered in the judgment and lien docket, all in the county where the parcel is situated.
A statement of the amount of the principal sum of each tax lien in the hands of the county treasurer, together with the date from which and the rate at which interest shall be computed on said principal sum.
A petition to the court for judgment vesting title to each of said parcels of land in the county, as of the date of entry of judgment and barring any and all claims whatsoever of the former owner or any person claiming through and under the former owner since the date of filing the list of tax liens in the office of the clerk of the circuit court.
The names of all municipalities, other than the foreclosing county, having any right, title or interest in the land or in the tax liens or in the proceeds thereof.
Such list of tax liens shall be verified by the affidavit of the county treasurer and shall be posted in the treasurer's office. The filing of such list of tax liens in the office of the clerk of the circuit court shall constitute and have the same effect as the filing and recording in the office of the register of deeds of such county of a separate and individual notice of the pendency of such proceeding as to each parcel described in such list, and likewise, not withstanding any other provision of law, shall constitute the commencement of a special proceeding by the county against each parcel of real estate therein described and have the same effect as the filing or recording of an individual and separate petition or complaint by the county against each parcel of real estate therein described to enforce the payment of the tax liens against such property.
A copy of the petition and so much of the list of tax liens as shall include the description of a particular parcel shall be mailed by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, by the county treasurer to the last-known post-office address of each owner and mortgagee of record, the state of Wisconsin in the instances specified in par. (am) 2.
, and to each municipality, other than the foreclosing county, having any right, title or interest in the land or in the tax liens or the proceeds thereof. An affidavit of the treasurer setting forth the names of the owners, mortgagees, the state of Wisconsin in the proper case and municipalities for whom a post-office address has been ascertained, giving the addresses and stating that notice was mailed, giving the date of mailing, and stating that no present post-office address was ascertainable for the other owners and mortgagees, shall be filed and constitute full compliance with this paragraph.
(3m) Extended time for foreclosing tax liens. 75.521(3m)(a)1.
“Dwelling" means any building that contains one or 2 dwelling units and any land included with that building in the same entry on the tax roll.
“Dwelling unit" means a structure or that part of a structure used as a home, residence or sleeping place by one person or by 2 or more persons maintaining a common household, to the exclusion of all others.
The common council of any city authorized to proceed under s. 74.87
may by ordinance direct its treasurer to defer the foreclosure of tax liens on dwellings. The ordinance shall designate the period of time that the foreclosure of tax liens shall be deferred after the one-year period provided under sub. (3) (a) 1.
The deferral period may not exceed 2 years. The deferral shall apply to those delinquent taxes and assessments incurred while the dwelling was owned and occupied by the person who owns and occupies the building at the beginning of the deferral period. If the owner ceases to occupy the dwelling during the deferral period, the city treasurer shall foreclose the tax lien on the dwelling as soon as practicable. A city adopting an ordinance under this subsection may require the dwelling owner to submit proof that the owner is eligible for a deferral under this subsection.
(4) Duty of the clerk of circuit court.
Each clerk of the circuit court with whom the list of tax liens is filed shall index it by year and list number, and alphabetically by the names of those set forth in the list, under sub. (3) (am) 2.
, in a separate record kept for that purpose and the clerk shall be entitled to a fee of $3 for receiving, filing and indexing of each such list, in lieu of any other fees to which he or she might otherwise be entitled for those services. The circuit court of the county in which the delinquent list is filed has jurisdiction of the proceeding authorized by this section.
(5) Rights of persons having an interest in parcels of land affected by tax liens.
Every person, including any municipal taxing district other than the county, having any right, title or interest in, or lien upon, any parcel described in such list may redeem such parcel by paying all of the sums mentioned in such list of tax liens together with interest thereon and the reasonable costs that the county incurred to initiate the proceedings under sub. (3)
plus the person's share of the reasonable costs of publication under sub. (6)
, or such portion thereof as is due for the interest therein or part thereof owned by such person which amount shall be determined by the county treasurer on application, before the expiration of the redemption period mentioned in the notice published pursuant to sub. (6)
, or may serve a verified answer upon the county treasurer of such county, as provided in sub. (7)
. The caption of such answer shall contain a reference to the number or numbers of the parcels concerned as shown by the treasurer's list. Such answer must be served on said county treasurer and filed in the office of the clerk of the circuit court within 30 days after the date mentioned in the notice published pursuant to sub. (6)
, as the last day for redemption. In the event of the failure to redeem or answer by any person having the right to redeem or answer within the time herein limited, such person, and all persons claiming under and through that person, from and after the date of the filing of said list of tax liens with the clerk of the circuit court, shall be forever barred and foreclosed of all his or her right, title and interest in and to the parcel described in such list of tax liens and a judgment in foreclosure may be taken as herein provided. Upon redemption as permitted by this section, the person redeeming shall be entitled to a certificate evidencing such redemption from the county treasurer of such county, describing the property in the same manner as it is described in such list of tax liens and the fact of such redemption shall be noted upon the tax rolls in the office of the county treasurer, who shall file a certified copy of such redemption certificate with the clerk of the circuit court and upon such filing, such clerk shall note the word “Redeemed" and the date of such filing opposite the description of said parcel on such list of tax liens. Such notation shall operate to cancel the notice of pendency of proceeding with respect to such parcel or such portion thereof. The person so redeeming shall be entitled to add the amount paid in redemption to the face amount of any lien which the person may have against said lands and to have interest thereon until paid.
(6) Public notice of in rem proceeding.
Upon the filing of such list in the office of the clerk of the circuit court, the county treasurer forthwith shall prepare a notice that such list of tax liens and petition has been so filed and a copy thereof posted in the office of said county treasurer. The treasurer shall cause such notice, together with the list of tax liens and petition, to be published as a class 3 notice, under ch. 985
. Such notice shall be in substantially the following form:
NOTICE OF COMMENCEMENT OF PROCEEDING
IN REM TO FORECLOSE TAX LIENS
BY .... COUNTY
(Here insert list of tax liens and petition as filed in office of clerk of the circuit court.)
Take notice That all persons having or claiming to have any right, title or interest in or lien upon the real property described in the list of tax liens, No. ...., on file in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of .... county, dated ...., and hereinabove set forth, are hereby notified that the filing of such list of tax liens in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of .... county constitutes the commencement by said .... county of a special proceeding in the circuit court for .... county to foreclose the tax liens therein described by foreclosure proceeding in rem and that a notice of the pendency of such proceeding against each piece or parcel of land therein described was filed in the office of the clerk of the circuit court on .... (insert date). Such proceeding is brought against the real property herein described only and is to foreclose the tax liens described in such list. No personal judgment will be entered herein for such taxes, assessments or other legal charges or any part thereof.
Take further notice That all persons having or claiming to have any right, title or interest in or lien upon the real property described in said list of tax liens are hereby notified that a certified copy of such list of tax liens has been posted in the office of the county treasurer of .... county and will remain posted for public inspection up to and including .... (here insert date at least 8 weeks from the date of the first publication of this notice) which date is hereby fixed as the last day for redemption.
Take further notice That any person having or claiming to have any right, title or interest in or lien upon any such parcel may, on or before said .... (insert redemption final date), redeem such delinquent tax liens by paying to the county treasurer of .... county, the amount of all such unpaid tax liens and in addition thereto, all interest and penalties which have accrued on said unpaid tax liens, computed to and including the date of redemption, plus the reasonable costs that the county incurred to initiate the proceedings plus the person's share of the reasonable costs of publication under sub. (6).
(7) Right of person having an interest in or lien upon parcels described in list of tax liens, to answer petition. 75.521(7)(a)(a)
Every person having any right, title or interest in or lien upon any parcel described in such list of tax liens, may serve a duly verified answer upon the county treasurer for such county, setting forth in detail, the nature and amount of that person's interest and objecting to the proposed foreclosure upon one or more of the following grounds only:
That the lands in which such person is interested, described in such list of tax liens, were not liable to taxation, special assessment, special charge or special tax at the time the tax, special assessment, special charge or special tax for the nonpayment of which the tax lien arises, was levied.
That the tax, special assessment, special charge or special tax for the nonpayment of which said tax lien arises, was in fact paid before the last day of the redemption period provided by law.
That the tax lien is barred by the statute of limitations.
No other defense to the petition of said county set forth in such tax list, shall be set up. Such answer must be filed in the office of the clerk of the circuit court and served upon the county treasurer of such county within 30 days after the date hereinabove mentioned, as the last date for redemption.
(8) Duty of the court to enter judgment in default cases.
In the event of the failure to redeem or answer by any person having the right to redeem or answer as hereinabove provided, such person and all persons claiming under and through that person, from and after the date of the filing of the list of tax liens in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of the county, shall be forever barred and foreclosed of all right, title and interest and equity of redemption in and to the parcel described in such list of the tax liens, and upon filing of an affidavit of such default or failure of redemption by the county treasurer of such county, the court in which such list of tax liens is filed, shall render final judgment ordering and adjudging that the county is vested with an estate in fee simple absolute in such lands, subject, however, to all unpaid taxes and charges which are subsequent to the latest dated valid tax lien appearing on the list specified in sub. (3) (b)
and to recorded restrictions as provided by s. 75.14 (4)
and all persons, both natural and artificial, including the state of Wisconsin, infants, individuals adjudicated incompetent, absentees, and nonresidents who may have had any right, title, interest, claim, lien or equity of redemption in such lands, are forever barred and foreclosed of such right, title, interest, claim, lien or equity of redemption. Such judgment shall be deemed to be based on the latest dated valid tax lien appearing on the list of tax liens. No personal judgment shall be entered against any person having or claiming to have any right, title or interest in or lien upon said lands. Such judgment shall have the effect of the issuance of a tax deed or deeds and of judgment to bar former owners and quiet title thereon.
(9) Filing of affidavit.
All affidavits of filing, publication, posting, mailing or other acts required by this section, shall be made by the person performing such acts and shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of the county in which the property subject to such tax lien is situated and shall, together with all other documents required in this section, filed in such office, constitute and become part of the judgment roll in such foreclosure proceeding.
(10) Contested issues and trial thereof.
If a duly verified answer is served upon the county treasurer within the period mentioned in sub. (7)
, the court shall hear and determine the issues raised by the petition and answer in the same manner and under the same rules as it hears and determines civil actions, except as in this section otherwise provided. Upon such trial, proof that such tax, special assessment, special charge or special tax, together with any interest or penalty which may have been due was paid, or that the property was not subject to tax, special assessment, special charge or special tax, or that such tax lien is barred by the statute of limitations, shall constitute a complete defense. Whenever an answer is interposed as herein provided, there shall be a severance of the proceeding as to any parcel or parcels of land in which such answering defendant has any right, title or interest as alleged in his or her answer, and as to the other parcels in such list, the proceeding shall proceed as provided in sub. (8)
(11) Preference over other proceedings and actions.
Any proceeding brought pursuant to this section shall be given preference over all other causes and actions not on trial and no such proceeding shall be referred.
(12) Presumptions of validity; guardian ad litem. 75.521(12)(a)(a)
The county need not plead or prove the various steps, proceedings and notices for the assessment and levy of the taxes, assessments or other lawful charges against the lands set forth in the list of tax liens and all such taxes, assessments or other lawful charges and the lien thereof shall be presumed to be valid. A defendant alleging any jurisdictional defect or invalidity in the tax, special assessment, special charge or special tax, because of which said land was not liable to taxation, special assessment or other lawful charge, must particularly specify in the defendant's answer such jurisdictional defect or invalidity and must affirmatively establish such defense.
This section shall apply to and be valid and effective with respect to all defendants even though one or more be infants, individuals adjudicated incompetent, absentees or nonresidents of the state of Wisconsin, provided that a guardian ad litem shall be appointed to serve for all persons known or unknown who have or may have an interest in the lands described in any list and who are or may be minors or individuals adjudicated incompetent at the date of filing such list. Such guardian ad litem may be appointed by the court without notice, and the fee for the services of the guardian ad litem as fixed by the court shall be paid by the county.