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After each taxing district within a county has adopted its tax rate for the year, tax bills are printed and delivered to the county sheriff's office for mailing.  

The property tax calendar provides for delivery of the tax bills to the sheriff by September 15 of each year. However, many counties wait until October 1 or November 1 to mail their tax bills.  If tax bills are mailed by October 1, taxpayers have until November 1 to pay their bill with a 2% discount.  The face amount of the tax bill is due from November 2 to December 31.  In January, a 5% penalty is added to the total amount due and beginning February 1 the penalty increases to 21% of the tax due.  After the close of business on April 15, all unpaid tax bills are transferred from the sheriff's office to the county clerk's office.  The county attorney is then responsible for sending out notices to the delinquent taxpayers while the county clerk processes and distributes payments received, advertises the delinquent tax bills, and conducts a sale of the delinquencies to third party purchasers. The following is a summary of a typical tax collection schedule: 

KENTUCKY PROPERTY TAX CALENDAR - THE COLLECTION CYCLE

ACTION DATE
Tax Bills Delivered to Sheriff
By September 15
Taxes are Due and Payable with 2% Discount September 15 – November 1
Taxes are Payable at Face Value November 2 – December 31
Unpaid Tax Bills Become Delinquent. Pay with a 5% Penalty
January 1 – January 31
Pay with 10% Penalty and 10% Sheriff's add on fee After January 31
Tax Bills Transferred to County Clerks from Sheriffs at close of business April 15
County Clerk's Sale of Certificates of Delinquency July 14 through August 28


If collections do not start until after November 1st, then an alternative collection schedule is implemented and property owners have 30 days to pay during each stage of the collection cycle. 

Collections continue in accordance with the schedule adopted until the close of business on April 15th – or three months and fifteen days from the date the taxes were due under an alternative collection schedule.  On that date, all unpaid tax bills are transferred to the county clerk's office where they are then known as certificates of delinquency and a lien is recorded against the property represented by the delinquency.

After the bills have been received in the county clerk's office there will be a period of at least 90 days before the county clerk will conduct the tax sale.  During this time frame the following activities must occur:

  • A list of all certificates of delinquency received from the sheriff must be provided to the Department of Revenue within 30 days of receipt;
  • The county clerk and OPV must set a tax sale date;
  • The county attorney is required to mail a 30-day notice to the delinquent taxpayers and – if necessary – another notice within 60 days;
  • The county clerk will advertise the delinquent real property tax bills at least 30 days, but not more than 45 days, prior to the tax sale date in both the local newspaper and on a county sponsored website;
  • The county clerk will register third party purchasers who desire to participate in the delinquent tax sale;
  • The county attorney must provide to the county clerk a list of certificates of delinquency that are to be excluded from the tax sale at least 10 days, but not more than 20 days, prior to the sale date; and
  • The county clerk will process all payments made by delinquent taxpayers prior to the tax sale.

Once the delinquent bills are transferred to the county clerk's office, various penalties, fees, and interest at 1% per month are added to the total amount due. 

The following section will give you an idea of the amounts added to the total due at various stages of the delinquent tax collection process.

Payment Amounts At Various Stages Of The Delinquent Tax Collection Process

The following payment scenarios will illustrate the various amounts due at different phases during the collection process in the county clerk's office. A tax bill with a face amount due of $1,000 will have the following amounts added to it when it is transferred from the sheriff to the county clerk:

Face amount of the tax bill
10% penalty
​Sheriff's add on fee
Sheriff's commission*

Total of Certificate of Delinquency

$1,000.00
100.00
110.00
44.00

$1,254.00

*An assumed commission of 4% was applied to $1,100 ($1,000 + $100) to arrive at $44.00.  The sheriff's actual commission rates need to be used to arrive at the amount to add to the total due. 

Payment Example #1 – This delinquency was paid within five business days of being transferred to the county clerk's office:

​Base amount of certificate of delinquency
Interest ($1,254.00 x 1%)* 
County clerk commission ($1,112.54 x 10%)**
Lien recording and release fee

Total amount due

​$1,254.00
12.54
111.25
10.00

$1,387.79

* Interest of 1% is applied for any fraction of a month a certificate of delinquency is unpaid.

**The county clerk's fee is 10% of the sum of the tax + 10% penalty + interest.  The county attorney's fee is waived since the certificate of delinquency was paid within 5 business days of the clerk's receipt of the delinquencies from the sheriff's office. 

Payment Example #2 – If the certificate of delinquency is paid after the county attorney has sent the first notice, the amount is calculated as follows:

​Base amount of certificate of delinquency
Interest ($1,254.00 x 1%) 
County clerk commission ($1,112.54 x 10%)
County attorney commission ($1,112.54 x 20%)
Postage due to county attorney for first notice
Lien recording and release fee

Total amount due

​$1,254.00
12.54
111.25
222.51
1.00
10.00

$1,611.30

Payment Example #3 – If the certificate of delinquency is paid in May, a second month's worth of interest is added. That also causes the commissions calculated for the county attorney and county clerk to increase:

​Base amount of certificate of delinquency
Interest ($1,254.00 x 2%) 
County clerk commission ($1,125.08 x 10%)
County attorney commission ($1,125.08 x 20%)
Postage due to county attorney for first notice
Lien recording and release fee

Total amount due

​$1,254.00
25.08
112.51
225.02
1.00
10.00

$1,627.61

Payment Example #4 – If the certificate of delinquency is paid after being advertised in June, the following amount would be due:

​Base amount of certificate of delinquency
Interest ($1,254.00 x 3%) 
County clerk commission ($1,137.62 x 10%)
County attorney commission ($1,137.62 x 20%)
Postage due for first and second notices
County clerk's fee
Assumed advertising cost
Lien recording and release fee

Total amount due in June

​$1,254.00
37.62
113.76
227.52
2.00
5.00
10.00
10.00

$1,659.90

Payment Example #5  Assuming this certificate of delinquency is paid by a third party purchaser; the following amount would be paid by the purchaser at the county clerk's tax sale:

​Base amount of certificate of delinquency
Interest ($1,254.00 x 4%) 
County clerk commission ($1,150.16 x 10%)
County attorney commission ($1,150.15 x 20%)
Postage due for first and second notices
County clerk's fee
Assumed advertising cost
Original lien recording and release fee
Assignment, recording, and indexing fee

Total amount due in June

​$1,254.00
50.16
115.02
230.03
2.00
5.00
10.00
10.00
28.00

$1,704.21

This amount would then be the basis upon which a third party purchaser would base its interest and fees. 

Submission of Delinquent Tax Bill Lists

The county clerk is responsible for providing or arranging to provide a list of all certificates of delinquency received from the sheriff to the Department of Revenue.  These lists must be submitted to the Department by May 15th and must include the following information:

  • Tax Bill Number;
  • The property owner's name;
  • The property's address; and
  • The parcel number or lot number, if available.

Each county's list will then be posted to the Department of Revenue's website by June 1st to provide a central access point for all interested parties. 

Establishment of a Tax Sale Date

KRS 134.128 establishes that all tax sales shall be scheduled at least 90 days, but not more than 135 days, after the delinquent tax bills have been transferred from the sheriff's office to the county clerk's office.  In a county with a normal collection schedule this means a tax sale can be scheduled any business day between July 14th and August 28th.  However, county clerks who must sell delinquent oil and gas or unmined mineral tax bills have an additional 60 days to schedule their tax sale.  This means the deadline for having a tax sale would be October 27th in those counties.

After a sale date for a county has been established, the county attorney should be informed so that this information can be included in the notices that must be sent to the delinquent taxpayers.

Mailing of Delinquent Notices

Within 30 days of the delinquent tax bills being transferred to the county clerk's office, the county attorney is required to mail a notice – by regular mail – to the delinquent taxpayer or to the in care of address if the property was sold during the tax year. The information that must be included in the notice by the county attorney is detailed in KRS 134.504. The county attorney is required to file in the county clerk's office a list of the names and addresses to which the 30 day notices were mailed along with a certificate attesting that the notices were mailed in accordance with the requirements of the statute.

At least 20 days after mailing the 30-day notice but within 60 days of the delinquent tax bills being transferred to the county clerk's office, the county attorney is required to send a second notice – by regular mail – to delinquent taxpayers whose tax bills remain unpaid.  The information that is required to be contained in this notice is similar to the 30-day notice. However, this notice will inform the delinquent taxpayer of the actual tax sale date as well as a statement that informs the delinquent taxpayer that the certificate of delinquency is subject to being purchased by a third party purchaser at the sale.  This notice will also advise the delinquent taxpayer that a third party purchaser may impose substantial additional fees to the total amount due. The county attorney must file in the county clerk's office a list of the names and addresses to which a 60-day notice was mailed along with a certificate attesting that the notices were mailed in accordance with the requirements of the statute.

Advertisement of Certificates of Delinquency

KRS 134.128(5) requires the county clerk to advertise the certificates of delinquency scheduled to be sold at the tax sale at least 30 days, but not more than 45 days, before the scheduled date.  The advertisement must be placed in the local newspaper with the largest paid circulation. The week before the individual certificates of delinquency are advertised a one-half page advertisement must be published.  This advertisement must state that a list of the delinquent taxes is available for public inspection during normal business hours at the business address of the county clerk in accordance with KRS 424.330 and on an identified internet web site.  The specific address for the county clerk's office, the hours of operation and the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for the web site must be included in the advertisement.  The delinquent tax bills must be listed on the internet web site at least 30 days prior to the tax sale date and updated on no less than a weekly basis.

The week after the half page advertisement appears, the listing of certificates of delinquency and - in a separate section - all personal property certificates of delinquency are published in the local newspaper. The information required to be included in the advertisement is the name of the property owner, the property address and the parcel number or lot number if available. It is also helpful to include the tax bill number and the total amount due in the advertisement; however, it is not legally required. The notice shall also list the date, time, and location of the tax sale.

If the certificate of delinquency is not paid by the date of the county clerk's tax sale, the delinquency is subject to being purchased by a third party.  The lien on your property represented by the certificate of delinquency is assigned to the third party purchaser and you will now have to make payment to them to satisfy the lien. 

For more information on third party purchasers, please access a separate document at this link:   Basic Information for Potential Third Party Purchasers


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The Kentucky Department of Revenue conducts work
under the authority of the Finance and Administration Cabinet.