Tax Forfeited lands are lands whose title has been acquired by the State of Minnesota due to non payment of property taxes. For over a century, the citizens of Minnesota have authorized the government and the courts to confiscate the taxpayer's real property, as a last resort, in order to compensate the taxing districts for lost revenue due to delinquent real property taxes.
It has been traditionally believed that the drastic measure of confiscating the taxpayer's real property is necessary in order to guarantee an equitable property tax system-- everyone paying his or her fair share as determined by law.
Because confiscation is the final step, the delinquent real property tax laws are purposefully set up to assure that all of the steps leading to the seizure and sale of real property are legally justifiable.
The complex set of provisions gives the taxpayer every chance to pay and makes the taxpayer clearly aware of the consequences of not paying the taxes before the confiscation of the real property.
Throughout the 20th Century, the Minnesota legislature has gradually built the major provisions of the delinquent real property tax laws into four chapters in the statutes: Chapters 279, 280, 281, and 282.
Minnesota Statute, Chapter 282 gives the County Board, the County Auditor and the Land & Minerals Department authority over the management and sale of tax forfeited lands. The Land & Minerals Department manages just under 900,000 acres of tax forfeit rural land and 13,000 urban parcels. Parcels vary in size from a few square feet to 100's of acres. Upon forfeiture, parcels are classified as conservation or non-conservation. Conservation parcels are retained for resource management (primarily timber production), and non-conservation parcels can be appraised for sale at public auction.
Tax forfeited lands, for the most part, are open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and other forms of dispersed recreation (all federal, state and local laws and regulations apply).