Courts having jurisdiction of any delinquent tax proceeding are vested with the authority to render judgments and decrees and order writs of possession to enforce tax liens. Typically, after the property is sold, the clerk reports to the court on the sale, and the court issues a decree confirming the sale. The decree concludes the tax sale, and usually contains a description of the property and complies with all legal requirements to properly pass title. Once completed, the buyer is entitled to possession and to all the rights and liabilities. Insurance coverage should be obtained immediately, as risk of loss passes to the buyer when the tax sale becomes final, and the buyer's liability for property taxes begins to accrue on that date. Taxes accruing between the sale date and the confirmation date are paid out of the proceeds of the sale.1
The tax deed may be issued before or after the statutory redemption period expires. If the deed is issued before the period expires, the deed should state that it is subject to statutory redemption. The court clerk may ascertain the buyer's preference on the time of issuing the deed and proceed accordingly. Generally, if the tax deed is not issued until after the redemption period expires, a certified copy of the confirmation decree may be filed at the registers' office (and a copy given to the assessor), stating the owner, purchaser, sale amount, and property description, along with a statement that the property is subject to redemption.
Generally, a tax deed assures the purchaser of perfect title except where the land was not liable for taxes or the taxes were paid. However, even though tax deeds generally assure perfect title and are invalidated only in certain circumstances provided by statute, a tax deed is invalid if legally sufficient process is not served upon the owners, notwithstanding the owners' admission that taxes were due and had not been paid.2
1T.C.A. § 67-5-2419. See also Marlowe v. Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 541 S.W.2d 121 (Tenn. 1976); Rogers v. Rogers, 47 S.W. 701 (1898); State v. Sexton, 368 S.W.2d 69 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1962).
2Watson v. Waters, 694 S.W. 2d 524, 525 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1984).