How to tell your neighbor they owe taxes

Mr. BaancBlog suggests it is the neighborly thing to do, and I have done it once. And I do know how embarrassing it is to approach your neighbor with such news. Here’s how it went down. The neighbor who I noticed was listed on the Tax Sale list, put out by the city tax office and published in the Washington Post, had offered me a ride to the metro. On the way I mentioned that it may have been a mistake but he was listed as owing unpaid property taxes and he might want to check it out. He guessed that his mortgage company screwed things up and he’d check it out.
Typing this out I now remember a neighbor with whom I’ve mainly just shared friendly waves with, and not much else, came over with a troubled look to tell me I had a Clean City lien on my house. Something she just noticed when trying to fight her assessment. I sorta knew about it already, and it was something that was from the previous owner’s time. I thanked her and that was it.
I have looked at the 2009 Tax Sale List (PDF) and none of my neighbors from my street are on it. So I don’t have to bother trying to figure out how to gently fit tax liens in the conversation.
If your interested in the tax lien sale, go for the interest rates, not for the properties. I’ve heard that most property owners pay the taxes. But then again you might get lucky and get to foreclose on a free & clear (no mortgages or other liens) house with a dead guy in it. My own experience with the sale is in a fit of frustration I was the winning bid for an alley. I made a little money on the interest on the taxes the owner/developer owed. The rate is 1.5% a month on the taxes owed. You don’t earn any interest on any amount of money you bid over taxes owed. Considering what my savings account is currently offering it is an okay investment, not the greatest, but okay.