COUNTY TREASURERS AND COLLECTION OF TAXES - SUSSEX COUNTY.
AN ACT to provide for the more efficient collection of Taxes in Sussex County, by establishing the Office of Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, and prescribing the duties of said office, and abolishing the Office of County Treasurer and the Office of Collector of Taxes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:
Section 1. That from and after the approval of this Act, the office of Collector of Taxes for the several districts of Sussex County, as now prescribed by law, is hereby abolished, provided, however, that the Collectors of Taxes,
who are duly appointed and qualified prior to the first day of January A. D. One Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifteen, shall continue in office as Collectors of Taxes with all their powers and authority, and subject to all their duties as such Collectors as now provided by law, for such time as may be necessary for them to collect the taxes which they were authorized and appointed to collect, but in no case for longer than two years from the date of their respective warrants.
Section 2. The Governor shall, on or before the first day of April, A. D. One Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifteen, appoint a competent person, who shall be a resident of Sussex County, to the office of Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, which said office is hereby created. The person, so appointed, shall hold office from the date of his appointment until the first Tuesday in the month of January, A. D. One Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventeen, or until his successor be duly qualified.
Section 3. At the general election in the year A. D. One Thousand Nine Hundred and Sixteen, and at the general election held in every fourth year thereafter, there shall be voted for and elected by the qualified voters of Sussex County a suitable person, being a resident of Sussex County, to fill the office of Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer. The person so elected shall hold office for the term of four years, commencing on the first Tuesday in January next succeeding his election, or until his successor shall be duly qualified. No person shall be twice elected Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer in any term of eight years, but the person appointed by the Governor as the first Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer hereunder shall be eligible for re-election.
Section 4. Any Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, appointed or elected under the provisions of this Act, shall, before entering upon the duties of his office, give bond to the State of Delaware, with one or more sureties, to be approved by the Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the State of Delaware, resident in Sussex County, in the sum of Twenty-five Thousand Dollars, conditioned as follows: "The condition of the above obligation is such that if the above bond ________, being Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer for Sussex County, shall faithfully and diligently collect all the rates and taxes which he shall, according to the duplicates and warrants to be issued to him as such Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, be required to collect, and all taxes whatever which shall be committed to him for collection, and shall pay the amount of all such rates and taxes, excepting only so far as allowance shall be made to him by the Levy Court for delinquencies or otherwise, to the officers authorized by law to receive the same, in the manner and within the times prescribed by law, or legally appointed by the Levy Court of said County for that purpose; and furthermore if the said shall perform the duties of his office in all things with fidelity, then the above obligation shall be void." The said obligation shall be a lien within the provisions of Section 4516 of the Revised Code.
To the said bond there shall be subjoined a warrant of attorney for the confession of judgment thereon, and the said bond and warrant shall be joint and several, provided, however, that if the surety upon said bond shall be a duly authorized surety company to be approved by the said Judge, in such case there shall be no warrant of attorney subjoined for the confession of judgment.
Such bond and warrant shall be forthwith transmitted by the said Judge to the Prothonotary of Sussex County to be by him recorded upon the records of his office and safely kept, and the record of said bond shall be evidence in any court of law or equity.
The said bond may be proceeded upon at the instance of the Comptroller or the Levy Court.
Section 5. The said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall not be required to collect school taxes assessed and levied by any School District or United School Districts in the County of Sussex.
Section 6. The Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer is empowered to employ expert assistance to institute a modern and improved system of books and accounts so that the state of the County's finances may be at all times easily ascertained, the cost of which shall be paid by the Levy Court.
Section 7. The Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall, upon the delivery to him of the tax duplicates and warrant as provided by law, be responsible for the whole amount of the taxes he shall be required to collect, or that shall be committed to him for collection, subject only to allowances made by the Levy Court for uncollectible taxes or otherwise.
Section 8. The said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall have prepared for each representative district a book of receipts, numbered serially, which receipts, when delivered upon the payment of taxes, shall show the amount of assessment, distinguishing real and personal assessment and capitation tax, and showing the rate or rates of taxes and any penalty imposed, if any there be, and the year of such tax, and each receipt shall have a corresponding stub which shall be retained in said book.
Section 9. The Levy Court of Sussex County shall furnish the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer a suitable office in the Court House, in the town of Georgetown, at which office the said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall attend, either in person or by deputy, every day except Sunday and legal holidays, for the receiving of taxes. The office hours in the town of Georgetown shall be from eight A. M. to twelve M. and from one P. M. to five P. M.
Section 10. In pursuance of public notices, the said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall attend in person, or by deputy, not less than once in every month during the months of May, June, July, August, September, October and November of each year, at some convenient and public place in each representative district in Sussex County, there to receive the taxes of any taxable in said representative district, or of any taxable in any adjoining representative district, and at such times and places he, or his deputy, shall sit at least six hours on every day so appointed.
He shall give notice in at least one newspaper, published in the town of Georgetown, of the times, places and hours of sitting when and where he will receive taxes in the several representative districts of Sussex County, exclusive of the ninth representative district, and he shall likewise give notice in a newspaper published in the representative district where he shall sit, if any there be, of the times and hours of the sitting and places when and where he will receive taxes in such representative district, and he shall also give the same notice by handbills posted in at least ten of the most public places in each representative district as aforesaid. Such notice shall be given at least ten days before the time of the sitting of said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer in any representative district.
Section 11. In case the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall fail to attend either in person or by deputy at his office in Georgetown at the times herein appointed for his attendance in Georgetown, or in the representative districts in Sussex County, exclusive of the ninth representative district, at the times to be appointed by him for his attendance, he shall, unless such failure to attend shall be shown to be unavoidable, forfeit and pay to anyone, who may have called at such time for the purpose of paying his taxes and not finding the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, or his deputy, in attendance to receive the same, the sum of ten dollars, besides costs of suit, to be recovered before any Justice of the Peace in Sussex County.
Section 12. It shall be the duty of the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer to collect and pay to the County all taxes on the duplicates delivered to him within one year next after the date of the warrant attached to the tax duplicates. On the first secular day of each month he shall pay the taxes collected by him during the preceding month to the County Treasurer for and during the tenure of office of the present County Treasurer, and thereafter weekly shall carry the funds so collected by him to the credit of the County, or to the credit of such county fund as the Levy Court shall direct. If the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall fail, in any year, to make full and complete settlement with the County for the taxes which it shall be his duty to collect, excepting such allowance as may be made to him, his salary as such officer shall be withheld and he shall not be entitled to accept or receive any salary or other compensation until such full and final settlement be made.
Section 13. In the month of April in the year following the year of the date of the warrant of the tax duplicates, as aforesaid, the said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall compile a list of the taxables in each representative district the taxes of whom he has been unable to collect, stating therein briefly the reason why the said taxes were in each case uncollectible, and shall present the same to the Levy Court and the Levy Court shall make an investigation of such list, and shall make a full and complete settlement with the said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer for all taxes received by him for the year, and at such settlement with shall, after investigation as aforesaid, make all just and proper allowance to said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer for such taxes as they shall find to be uncollectible by reason of errors in the assessment lists or otherwise, and not due to default or neglect of said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, which settlement shall be final and conclusive, and no other allowance, in any form or guise, shall be made to said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer. The settlement as aforesaid shall be made annually between the twenty-third day of April and the thirtieth day of April. The said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall publish a list of the taxables of each representative district whose taxes he has been unable to collect, stating therein the reason why the said taxes were uncollectible, in two newspapers of Sussex County, one of which shall be published in the town of Georgetown; and he shall in at least two public places of each representative district post a like list of the taxables of such district whose taxes he has been unable to collect. Said publication and posting of the lists as aforesaid shall be done in the month of April in each year next succeeding the date of his warrant, and at least two weeks prior to the twenty-third day of April in each year.
Section 14. All the powers, duties, emoluments and perquisites appertaining to the office of County Treasurer of Sussex County are hereby preserved to the present incumbent for and during the full term of office for which he was elected. From and after the expiration of the term of the present incumbent of the office of County Treasurer of Sussex County, or if from any cause the said office of County Treasurer of Sussex County should become vacant before the expiration of the term, all the powers, rights, duties, conditions and limitations appertaining to the office of County Treasurer of Sussex County shall be vested in the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer as herein created, and upon the expiration of the term of office of the present incumbent, or in case a vacancy shall happen during said term, the said office is abolished and the duties of County Treasurer shall devolve at once upon the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer.
Section 15. The annual salary of the Receiver of Taxes, and County Treasurer shall be eighteen hundred dollars, which shall be paid to him by warrants of the Levy Court of Sussex County in equal monthly installments.
He may select and employ one deputy at an annual salary of Eight Hundred Dollars, which salary shall be likewise paid to said deputy by warrants of the Levy Court in equal monthly installments. The said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer may, with the approval of the Levy Court, employ other and additional assistance in his office as may be required from time to time, provided the cost of such shall not in any one year exceed the sum of Two Hundred Dollars.
The deputy provided for herein shall be under the control of the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer. He shall have the right to discharge such deputy at any time, and shall be responsible for all the official acts, negligences and defaults of such deputy.
Section 16. The necessary expenses of said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer and of his Deputy, in going to, remaining at, and returning from, the said sittings in the several representative districts heretofore mentioned, shall be made out monthly in writing duly itemized and verified before the Clerk of the Peace, and presented to the Levy Court, and it shall be the duty of the Levy Court to make allowance to said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer in the usual form, after due investigation.
Section 17. All taxes assessed and levied shall be due and payable on the first day of May in each year and no demand therefor shall be necessary.
Section 18. Remedies for the Collection of Taxes.
Remedies A. The remedy by distress, as now prescribed by law, is hereby preserved to the said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer for the collection of any taxes for which he may be responsible.
B. At any time after the delivery of the duplicates and warrants and without notice to the taxable, the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer may institute suit before any Justice of the Peace of the State of Delaware in any of the counties in said State, for the recovery of any tax due and unpaid, and, in an action of debt may recover judgment against any taxable, and upon such judgment may sue out writs of execution as in case of other judgments recovered before a Justice of the Peace. The action shall be brought in the name of "____________,
Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer for Sussex County."
C. The Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer may at any time notify in writing the person or corporation by whom any taxable is employed that the tax of said employee is due and unpaid, and it shall thereupon be the duty of the said employer to deduct from the wages, or from any sum due such employee, the amount of the tax due from such employee, and charge the same against him; and if such employer refuses or neglects to comply with the provisions of this section within three months from the time of receiving such notice, he shall be personally liable for the tax of such person as to whom notice has been given, and the amount of said tax may be recovered from such employer by the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer in an action of debt before any Justice of the Peace.
When the amount of such tax is held by any employer under the provisions of this section, he shall pay the same to the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer within fifteen days thereafter. A copy of this section shall accompany all written notices to employers.
D. If the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall not be able to find property of a taxable from which to collect the tax due, and shall be unable to collect the tax of any taxable by any of the processes herein prescribed, it shall be lawful for the said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, and it shall be his duty, to take and imprison the body of such taxable in the county jail by delivering to any constable of the county, or to the sheriff, a commitment similar in form, with the necessary changes as to detail, to commitments now used by Justices of the Peace.
E. For the purpose of collecting the tax of any taxable, and without the necessity of first employing the other remedies herein provided, the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer is authorized and empowered to sell the lands and tenements of any taxable, or the lands and tenements of any taxable alienated by him subsequent to the levy of such tax, in the manner following: after depositing in the mail in a sealed wrapper sufficiently stamped, an itemized tax bill, together with a notice to the taxable that he will proceed to sell the lands and tenements of the taxable for the payment of the tax, addressed to said taxable at his last known post office address, if such can be reasonably ascertained, the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall file in the office of the Prothonotary a certificate under his hand and seal, containing, (a) the name of the taxable; (b) the assessment of the property of the taxable as it appears upon the tax duplicate; (c) the year for which the tax was levied ; (d) the rate of tax; (e) the total amount due; (f) the date from which the penalty for non-payment shall commence and the rate of such penalty; (g) a short description of the lands and tenements proposed to be sold, sufficient to identify the same; (h) the address of the taxable, if ascertainable as aforesaid; (i) that a tax bill and notice has been mailed to such taxable, and the date of such mailing. Upon the filing of such Certificate the Prothonotary shall record the same in a properly indexed Record to be known as "Tax Sale Record," and shall endorse upon said record of said certificate the following; "The certificate filed the _______ day of ______ A. D. ________ (giving the day and year), and the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall therefore proceed to sell the lands and tenements herein mentioned, or a sufficient part thereof, for the payment of the tax due." Which endorsement shall be signed by the Prothonotary.
Section 19. The Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall then proceed to advertise the lands and tenements of the taxable by posting handbills in at least ten public places in the county, one of which shall be on the lands to be sold, and one at the Court House in Georgetown, and by publishing the notice or advertisement of sale in a newspaper of the county at least one issue before the day fixed for the sale. All sales shall be made at the Court House door and the hand bills and advertisement shall contain the day, hour, place of sale, and a short description of the property to be sold.
The Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall keep a record of the places where the said handbills were posted and of the newspaper in which the advertisement was published, and such record shall be presumptive evidence of such advertisement and posting.
Section 20. Every sale of lands and tenements shall be returned by the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer to the Superior Court in and for Sussex County at the next term thereof, and the Court shall inquire into the circumstances and either approve said sale or set it aside. If it be approved, the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall make a deed to the purchaser which shall convey the title of the taxable, or of his alienee, as the case may be; if it be set aside, the Court may order another sale, and so on until the tax due be collected. The certificate filed, together with the return and deed, shall be presumptive evidence of the regularity of the proceedings.
Section 21. In cases of sale of land for the payment of taxes, the following costs shall be allowed, to be deducted from the proceeds of sale, or chargeable against the owner."
To the Prothonotary,
For filing and recording certificate $1.00
For filing and recording return of sale 1.50
To the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer,
For preparing certificate $.25
For making sale of lands 2.00
For preparing and filing return 1.50
For posting handbills 1.00
In addition the cost of printing handbills and publication of advertisements of sale shall be chargeable as costs as aforesaid.
The cost of the deed shall not be chargeable as costs, but shall be paid by the purchaser.
Section 22. In case the owner of any lands and tenements against which a tax shall be levied and assessed shall be unknown, this fact shall be stated in the advertisement of sale, and in addition to the notice herein required, the advertisement shall be published in some newspaper published in Sussex County in at least two successive issues thereof before the day fixed for the sale of said property.
Section 23. No sale shall be approved by the Court if the owner be ready at Court to pay the taxes, penalty and costs, and no deed shall be made until the expiration of one year from the time of sale, within which time the owner, his heirs, executors or administrators shall have the power to redeem the lands on payment to the purchaser, his heirs or assigns, of the costs, the amount of the purchase money, and twenty per cent, interest thereon, and expenses of the deeds.
Section 24. The death of any taxable shall not prevent the recovery of any tax due and owing, but the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall proceed for the collection thereof against the personal representative of such deceased taxable ; and in the event that lands and tenements of a deceased taxable are to be sold, it shall be sufficient for the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer to suggest the death upon the record and give notice as herein prescribed to the heirs at law or devisees of the land, as the case may be, and the executor or administrator of such deceased taxable, if any there be within the County of Sussex.
Section 25. After satisfying the tax due and the costs and expenses of sale from the proceeds of sale, the amount remaining shall be paid at once to the owner of the land, or upon the refusal of said owner to accept the same, or if the owner is unknown or cannot be found, the amount remaining shall be deposited in some bank in the county either to the credit of the owner, or in a manner by which the fund may be identified.
Section 26. The lien of any taxes upon property may be extended against the owner thereof in the manner following, namely: any Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall, prior to the expiration of the lien of said taxes, file with the Prothonotary of Sussex County a certificate containing the name of the taxable, the amount of the assessment, distinguishing the real and personal property and capitation tax, the year for which the said taxes may be levied, the rate of taxes, the total tax levied, the date from which the penalty for nonpayment of tax shall begin, and the rate of such penalty per month. The prothonotary shall thereupon file said certificate and enter an abstract thereof upon a record to be by him kept in his office and to be known as "Tax Lien Record." The lien of said tax shall thereupon be extended and remain a lien against all the real property of said taxable within Sussex County, inclusive of all real property alienated by said taxable subsequent to the levy of said tax, and shall extend back to the date of the levy of said tax, and shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date of said levy, subject to the same conditions and limitations as of a judgment recovered in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware, and a writ of levari facias may issue thereon for the sale of the taxable's real estate at the direction of any Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, or at the direction of the Levy Court, as on any such judgment, and shall be in the name of the State of Delaware against said taxable.
Section 27. If any person is assessed for several parcels of land and tenements, or for personal property and lands and tenements in the same tax assessment, the total of said person's taxes may be collected out of the personal property, or out of the whole or any part or portion of said lands and tenements, provided that land alienated by the taxable shall not be sold until other property of the taxable shall have been disposed of; and provided that if the tax be paid on land alienated, the lien of the tax thereon shall be discharged.
Section 28. The Recorder of Deeds, Register of Wills, Clerk of the Orphans' Court and Register in Chancery shall make a list of the changes of ownership of real estate as shown by the records of their respective offices, giving therein a short description of the property, the name or names of the person from whom the title was derived, to and in whom the title shall be vested as it shall appear in such transfers of title, and shall deliver the said list on the first secular day of each month to the said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer.
Section 29. Every sheriff, constable, trustee in bankruptcy, or trustee or receiver appointed by any decree of any court of this State or elsewhere, or any landlord or bailiff in any distraint proceedings for the recovery of rent, who shall make sale of any property, real or personal, in the County of Sussex, shall deliver to the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, a copy of the advertisement of said sale ten days before the date fixed therefor, and upon demand made by the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, the officer conducting the sale shall withhold the amount of the tax and pay the same to the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer.
Section 30. The Levy Court or Sussex County shall have prepared for the use of said Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, records, books, forms and supplies necessary for the proper discharge of the duties of his said office.
Section 31. The Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer shall allow no abatement or discount upon any tax required to be collected by him, and shall after the first day of October in the year in which the tax duplicate shall be delivered to him, add to taxes to be paid thereafter a penalty of one per centum per month until the same shall be paid.
Section 32. It shall be unlawful for the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer to accept county warrants of any form or kind in payment of taxes.
Section 33. If any taxable of the county shall remove from the county with intent to escape payment of any tax due, he shall be liable in any action brought before a Justice of the Peace for the recovery of such tax, to double the amount thereof.
Section 34. If any Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, or out-going Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, shall be unable, within one year from the date of the duplicate and warrant, to collect the tax of any taxable, he is authorized and empowered, having first paid the amount thereof to the credit of the county, to collect said tax from such taxable for his own use and benefit by any of the processes of law herein prescribed, within the space of one further year, the said further year to commence upon the day of the expiration of the year beginning upon the date of the warrant and duplicate, after which time the said tax shall be extinguished, unless the lien of the same shall be extended.
In case any Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, or any out-going Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, shall cause the lien of any tax to be extended and shall be compelled to pay the amount thereof to the credit of the County, the Levy Court shall assign said lien or mark the same to the use of such Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, and he may proceed thereon for its enforcement in the name of the State to and for his use.
Section 35. All records, books, papers, stubs, accounts, of whatever kind or character, appertaining to the office of Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, shall belong to the County of Sussex, and upon the expiration of the of term of office of any Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer, he shall turn over the same to his successor, or to the Levy Court of the County.
Any Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer who shall, upon demand made, fail to comply with the provisions of this Section, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined in a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars, or shall be imprisoned for a term not to exceed one year, or both at the discretion of the court.
Section 36. That all acts or parts of acts inconsistent with or supplied by this Act are hereby repealed.
All acts or parts of acts pertaining to the powers, duties, conditions and limitations of the office of County Treasurer and Collectors of county taxes of Sussex County not inconsistent with the provisions of this act shall continue in force and shall apply to the office of Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer herein created.
Approved March 12, A. D. 1915.