While we have discussed excess tax sale cases before, recently, the Georgia Court of Appeals addressed who may claim excess tax sale funds. In that case, the Court held that judgment holder was not an “interested” party and therefore not entitled to tax sale funds following a Fulton County tax sale.
Here, the claimant held a judgment (the ultimate litigant was a successor assignee of the judgment) against a lender who held a mortgage against the property. The judgment holder argued that following the tax sale, the excess tax sale funds became personal property belonging to the mortgage holder—and therefore (somehow) the mortgage holder is entitled to a lien against such personal property (i.e, the tax sale proceeds).
In analyzing these claims, the Court looked to O.C.G.A. § 48-4-5(a), which states:
[i]f there are any excess funds . . . the officer selling the property shall give written notice of such excess funds to the record owner of the property at the time of the tax sale and to the record owner of each security deed affecting the property and to all other parties having any recorded equity interest or claim in such property at the time of the tax sale.
The subsection that follows provides that “[s]uch excess funds shall be distributed by the superior court to the intended parties, including the owner, as their interests appear and in the order of priority in which their interests exist.” O.C.G.A. § 48-4-5(b).
Ultimately, this turned out to be an easy decision because the claimant simply did not have any interest in the property by virtue of holding a judgment against a party that may have had an interest. Specifically, because the judgment was against a corporate entity, and not the property that had been sold, and because the judgment lien was against a predecessor in interest to a grantee of a security deed, the claimant was not an “interested party” under OCGA § 48-4-5 and could not receive excess funds under the statute.