In a case addressing acquisition of a proper tax title and redemption, the Wyoming Supreme Court concluded it would adhere to strict compliance with the purpose of the notice of tax sale because notice is to bring the person entitled to redeem knowledge that the land has been sold for taxes and within that time the same may be redeemed from such sale.  The case is dated 4.13.2018, Montierth v. Deutsche Bank, 2018 WY 41, S-17.0212.

The Court said:  As a general rule, we have required “strict or complete” compliance with statutes governing notice of tax sales and notice of tax purchaser’s intent to apply for a tax deed. Thompson- Green v. Estate of Drobish, 2006 WY 126, ¶ 16, 143 P.3d 897, 902-03 (Wyo. 2006). The underlying rationale for our continued insistence on strict compliance is that “[t]he purpose of notice . . . is to bring the person entitled to redeem knowledge that the land has been sold for taxes and within what time the same may be redeemed from such sale.” Bishop, 5 P.2d at 282. Accordingly, we construe the statutes “liberally” and “in the interest of the owner.” Id.; see also Hackett v. Linch, 57 Wyo. 289, 116 P.2d 868, 870 (1941). Davis v. Minnesota Baptist Convention, 45 Wyo. 148, 16 P.2d 48 (1932) exemplifies our strict application of the statutory requirements. There, we held that where notice of a tax sale had been published, but not posted on the courthouse door, as required by the statute at the time, and where notice was served on one of the property’s occupants, but not on his wife, a co-occupant who was also entitled to notice, the tax title was invalid. Id. at 52-53.

We have only departed from our principle of strict compliance in one instance. In Barlow v. Lonabaugh, 61 Wyo. 118, 156 P.2d 289 (1945), we held that the failure to formally serve notice of the time for redemption on property owners who had stated that they did not want to redeem the property and then quitclaimed their interest in the property to the county did not invalidate the tax deed. Id. at 293-94. There, the validity of the tax deed was challenged by holders of bonds issued pursuant to paving assessments upon which the landowners had defaulted. Id. at 290. The bondholders argued that because notice regarding the expiration of the redemption period was not provided to the property owners, the tax deed was void. Id. at 293. We recognized that the bondholders were not entitled to statutory notice and found that because they could not establish they were prejudiced by the failure to give formal notice to the property owners, “they have nothing of which they can complain,

Technically, of course, there was not a compliance with the statute, and if technicalities must govern herein, then, of course, the county did not acquire a proper tax title. It is generally held that statutory provisions prerequisite to a tax title must be literally, or at least substantially, complied with. That is because the law favors the owners. Still we can hardly believe that even in tax matters all rules of reason have ceased to exist.

[¶23] In this case, however, where Deutsche Bank was entitled to notice under the statute, we do not agree that “rules of reason” require anything other than strict compliance with our statutes. We therefore decline Mr. Montierth’s invitation to overrule Bishop and Burns and to adopt a rule of “substantial compliance” in this case. As we concluded in the preceding paragraphs, the notice provided to Deutsche Bank failed to comply with Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 39-13-108(e)(v)(C)(V) because it erroneously indicated that the time to redeem had expired, when, in fact, there remained almost four months before the redemption deadline. The tax deed is accordingly void.

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