Is a part-owner obligated to pay property taxes?

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Is a part-owner obligated to pay property taxes?

An ex-friend of mine contacted me and said that the IRS sent him a letter saying that
he owed in property taxes on a home in Lincoln Park. He claims that they are also
after me because I am a ‘part-owner’, despite the fact that I never signed any legal
paperwork stating me as a part-owner. We had a verbal conversation over the phone
that, due to his financial circumstances, I agreed to help out in part of paying some
of his bills, but he had a banker on the other line and had the bank sign me on as
part-owner without sending me any paperwork whatsoever. He says that he owes
3000 in property taxes and that he could be sent to jail if it’s not paid off
immediately and that I also could be facing jail time as well. What should I do?

Asked on March 10, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) Are you on the deed or title as an owner? If you are, bear in mind that you are entitled to half the value of the home when it is sold--and can force a sale fo the home, through legal action called an action "for partition," if you wanted. So if you are a part owner and don't want to be stuck paying your friend's taxes, you can force that the home be sold, use trhe proceeds to pay and taxes then split what is left with him.
And if you are not on the deed or title, you are NOT a part owner and have no liability for property taxes.
2) People do not go to jail for not paying property taxes. The government can take the home for unpaid taxes and sell it to satisfy those taxes...but again, you cannot be jailed for them.
3) You can't be made an owner of anything or resposible for debts against your will: the "banker" could not make you part owner without sending you paperwork and having you sign/agree to own.
What your ex-friend is telling you does not make sense. He may be scamming you. You should consult with an attorney about untangling this situation.


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