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  • Joel Votolato

Exploring the Basics of Rhode Island Tax Lien Auctions: What You Need to Know

In Rhode Island, municipal real estate tax sales are a crucial mechanism used by local governments to collect delinquent property taxes. For property owners who fail to pay their taxes, this process can result in the sale of their property to recoup the outstanding taxes owed. Understanding how these tax sales work is essential for property owners, investors, and anyone involved in real estate transactions within the state.

1. Initiation of Tax Sale Process:

The tax sale process in Rhode Island typically begins when property owners fail to pay their property taxes for an extended period. Each municipality has its own timeline and procedures for tax collection, but generally, if taxes remain unpaid for a certain period, the municipality may initiate the tax sale process.

2. Notice to Property Owners:

Before a property can be sold at a tax sale, the municipality is required to provide notice to the property owner. This notice typically includes information about the outstanding taxes, the intention to sell the property, and the date, time, and location of the tax sale auction. It's crucial for property owners to pay attention to these notices to avoid the risk of losing their property.

3. Tax Sale Auction:

The tax sale auction is where interested buyers have the opportunity to bid on properties with delinquent taxes. The auction is usually held either in person or online, depending on the municipality's procedures. Bidders are required to register and may need to meet certain qualifications or provide a deposit to participate.

4. Bidding Process:

During the auction, properties are typically sold to the highest bidder. However, Rhode Island operates under a competitive bidding system, which means that bidders compete by offering to pay a percentage of the property's assessed value. The bidder who offers to pay the highest percentage of the assessed value wins the auction.

5. Redemption Period:

After the tax sale auction, there is a redemption period during which the property owner has the opportunity to redeem the property by paying the delinquent taxes, plus any additional fees and interest that may have accrued. the redemption period extends one year from the date of the auction. After twelve months the purchaser of the tax lien may file an action in the Superior Court to Foreclose the Right of Redemption and take title to the property by court order.


Rhode Island municipal real estate tax sales serve as an important tool for local governments to collect delinquent property taxes and maintain revenue streams. Property owners should be aware of their obligations regarding property taxes to avoid the risk of losing their properties through tax sales. Similarly, investors should conduct thorough research and due diligence before participating in tax sale auctions to mitigate risks and maximize investment opportunities. Understanding the intricacies of the tax sale process is essential for all parties involved in real estate transactions within the state of Rhode Island.

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