Delinquent Billings, Late Payments and Judicial Sales

Managing Delinquent Billings and Late Payments

Learn the various aspects of overdue payments and delinquent charges, including details about the DMV Stop Fee, which prevents vehicle registration for those with outstanding taxes, penalties, interest or fees. Learn about the payment plan option. Understand judicial sales as a last resort for collecting delinquent real estate taxes.

DMV Stop Fee

Through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Vehicle Registration Withholding (VRW) program, localities can prevent the issuance, reissuance or renewal of registrations (license plate decals) for all vehicles you own or co-own if you owe delinquent taxes, penalties, interest and/or fees to a locality. DMV charges the county a $25 fee for each DMV Stop released, which is then passed on to the taxpayer.  

DMV Stop Removal

Once a DMV vehicle registration withholding has been placed on an account, all delinquent debt must be satisfied. Payments must be made with certified funds (cash, money order or cashier’s check) or credit card. If payment is made:

  • In person: the DMV Stop can be released immediately. 
  • Online or by phone, using a credit card: the DMV Stop will be released by 5 p.m. the following business day.  

Note: If you have a DMV Stop on your account, payment by e-check is not available.

One-Month Registration Renewal Extension

DMV offers a one-month registration renewal for $10. The one-month extension must be requested in person at a DMV customer service center or a DMV select location, and your vehicle registration must be valid and due to expire within the current calendar month. 

For more information about the denial of DMV vehicle registrations or renewals, please visit the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Judicial Sales for the Collection of Delinquent Real Estate Taxes

One of the methods available to collect delinquent real estate taxes under the Code of Virginia is the judicial sales process, also referred to as a bill in equity, where delinquent real estate parcels and improvements are sold.

Judicial Sales Property Eligibility

Virginia law specifically governs the judicial sale process (Article 4 of Chapter 39, Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia, Code Sections 58.1-3965 et. seq.). Tax parcels are eligible for judicial sale in most cases when "any taxes on [such] real estate are delinquent on Dec. 31 following the second anniversary of the date on which such taxes become due."

Judicial Sales Process

Depending on the property, the judicial sale process can take several months to approximately 18 months. The owner of the property can redeem the property at any time during the process prior to the sale by paying all taxes, penalties, interest and costs. Generally, before a property can be sold, the following steps are completed:

  • At least 30 days prior to any action, a notice must be sent to the last known address of each property owner and in some circumstances, to the address of the property itself.
  • At least 30 days prior to filing a suit in Circuit Court, a list of properties planned for judicial sale must be published at least once by newspaper. (At a later date, another notice is published in the newspaper announcing the public sale of the property.)
  • Suit is filed in the Circuit Court against the owners to have the property sold at a judicial sale.
  • Once the Court determines that the sale is warranted, a special commissioner of sale is appointed by the Circuit Court.
  • The special commissioner of sale, at his discretion, may obtain offers through a private bid, through a public auction or list the property with a real estate agent.
  • Once the special commissioner of sale has completed the bid process, reports are filed and a hearing is scheduled with the Circuit Court to ask the Court to approve the offer.
  • If the sale is confirmed by the Circuit Court, the Court directs the special commissioner of sale to complete the sale by collecting the purchase price, preparing and executing the deed and by preparing a report accounting for all sale proceeds and disbursements.
  • The special commissioner then distributes the proceeds in order of priority, as approved by the Court, and makes a final accounting to the Court. The proceeds are distributed as follows in order of priority:
    • Costs of the suit, including attorney's fees
    • Payment of all delinquent real estate taxes and pro rata share of current taxes
    • Payment to any lien creditors (e.g. mortgage creditors, judgment lien creditors, state or federal tax liens) in their order of priority as determined by law
    • Any remaining proceeds are paid to the owners of the property; if owners cannot be located or identified, the Court can direct the remaining proceeds belonging to such absent owner be paid over to and held by the Clerk of the Circuit Court