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Legal Memorandum: Validity of a Tax Sale and Burden of Proof

Issue: Under Louisiana law, who bears the burden of proof when attacking the validity of a tax sale?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Real Estate Law, Tax Law
Keywords: Attacking the validity of a tax sale; Burden of proof
Jurisdiction: Louisiana
Cited Cases: 5 So. 2d 758; 199 La. 240; 141 La. 606; 75 So. 427; 135 La. 976
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 05/01/2009

The party attacking the validity of a tax sale has the burden of showing its invalidity.  Stone v. Kimball’s Heirs, 199 La. 240, 245, 5 So. 2d 758, 760 (1942).  The burden includes a burden to prove, if applicable, that the taxes were paid.  Id. at 249-50, 5 So. 2d at 761.  See Scheen v. Hain, 141 La. 606, 75 So. 427 (1915) (holding that payment of the taxes prior to the tax sale rendered the tax sale absolutely void, and the receipt showing payment of taxes was presumed correct).

Conversely, one holding a tax title or deed containing recitals that all of the legal formalities have been complied with may rely on the documentary evidence as prima facie evidence of a valid conveyance.  Stone, 199 La. at 246, 5 So. 2d at 760; Crain v. C.W. Vanderdoes Estate, 307 So. 2d 157, 158 (La. Ct. App. 1974) (holding that the defendant tax debtor failed to prove defects that would render the tax sale null).

Other grounds for attacking the tax title could include such things as that the property may have improperly described, or that the name of the former owner was wrong.  Xeter Realty v. Samorini, 135 La. 976, 66 So. 318 (1914).  See also La. Rev. Stat. § 47:2286 (stating that a tax sale will be nullified if the sale was to a prohibited person under La. Rev. Stat. § 47:2162).

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