According to the Association of Kansas County Treasurers, payments on overdue taxes are first applied to the most current tax bill.
If one wants to pay delinquent years Kansas State Law (KSA79-2401A) requires that the most current delinquent year be paid first. Example: If a homeowner had taxes owing for 1993, 1994, and 1995 the full amount for 1995 must be paid before payment for the 1994 etc., or of course, the homeowner can pay all the years at once. (source)
If true, this would mean that once you got behind on your taxes, you’d be required to pay everything you owe to keep the property from being sold at the sheriff’s sale. In other word’s you wouldn’t be able to be consistently behind on your taxes. Once you get behind you’d have to get completely caught up to prevent a sale.
I asked Susan Quick (Bourbon County Treasurer) about this and she said it didn’t sound right. She said, Bourbon County has always let people apply payments to any year. In some cases, people want to pay the current year first in order to keep their name out of the paper.
I read through KSA79-2401A a few times, but Terri Johnson (Bourbon County Attorney) was kind enough to take a look at it and explain it to me. It turns out that the Association of Kansas County Treasurers is in error. It appears they copied nearly word for word a section from the Johnson County website that says the same thing. They aren’t the only site to copy Johnson County. Linn County’s site says the same thing.
If you read through the statute, you’ll see that the Johnson County site is correct, but only for Johnson County. Everywhere else requires the payments to be applied to the oldest delinquent taxes.
It seems a little odd that there is a state law saying, “do X” but if you are in Johnson County “do the opposite of X.” I’m surprised it makes an exception to the opposite in one particular county. Terri Johnson pointed out that at some point in the past the law applied to both Johnson and Wyandotte counties, but Wyandotte was later removed. At this point it is unclear what was driving this difference in state law.
As far as Bourbon County goes, the law says that people can’t choose how to apply delinquent payments so the current policy should be changed. However, since the law basically says that people need to act in what is usually their own best interest, it is unlikely that the policy has had any significant variation from the law.