New York State Comptroller's Office Registers of Non-Resident Lands Sold in Tax Sales

Held by the New York State Archives

Overview of the Records


New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

This series consists of geographical registers recording the tax-sales of lands of non-residents and published volumes listing land to be sold for arrears of taxes. Information includes lot number, description of property, acreage, and information on payments and/or outstanding payments.
approximately 104.5 cubic feet (241 volumes)
Inclusive Dates:
approximately 1808-1926
Series Number:


Chronological by sale year, then alphabetic by county, then by town or tract, then by lot number.

Administrative History

Between 1801 and 1928, the state comptroller was required to sell and convey by deed the property of delinquent non-resident taxpayers. In 1799 the legislature enacted a tax on real and personal property (Chapter 72). The 1799 tax was to be calculated from assessed valuations prepared for the U.S. Direct Tax of 1798.

Commissioners were appointed in each county to correct errors of local assessors, hear appeals, and "equalize" the tax (so that property of equal value in the different towns of the county bore an equal tax). After correcting the assessment roll, commissioners sent one copy back to the town tax collector with a warrant to collect the taxes. A second copy and a list of unpaid taxes were sent to the state comptroller. The comptroller prepared a list of all unpaid taxes and returned it to the commissioners, so the taxes due could be relevied the next year.

In 1801 (Chapter 179) the legislature abolished the separate office of county tax commissioner and vested most of the functions in the board of supervisors. However, county treasurers were required to send the lists of delinquent taxes to the comptroller. This law also made provision for comptroller's tax sales. If taxes owed by non-residents remained unpaid for two years, the comptroller was required to sell all or part of the property to recover the amount of tax plus interest and fees.

The comptroller issued a certificate of sale to the buyer. This certificate was in effect a tax lien upon the property. It entitled the purchaser to obtain a deed for the property two years after sale, unless during that time the owner redeemed it from the tax sale by paying the purchase price plus interest.

The first comptroller's sale of non-resident lands for unpaid taxes took place in 1808. Subsequent sales were held every few years through 1926.

The law on sales of lands for non-payment of taxes was reenacted in 1823 (Chapter 262) and again in 1828 as part of the Revised Statues. The comptroller retained responsibility for selling and conveying lands of non-residents for non-payment of taxes. County treasurers collected back taxes owed by residents through a collector's sale of moveable property (i.e., cattle, implements, lumber, crops).

If the taxable owner was a resident of the town or city ward where the property was located, the tax might be assessed either on the owner or the occupant. If the owner was a non-resident, any occupant of the land had the right (after 1819) to redeem it from a tax sale. The purchaser of the land was required to serve any occupant at the time of the sale with a notice of the right to redeem it from sale.

In 1820 the law was amended to require the purchaser to serve a second notice on any occupant after the two-year redemption period had expired. The occupant now had an additional six months in which to redeem the property from the sale.

In 1850 (Chapter 298) the legislature transferred the function of selling and conveying land for unpaid taxes to the county treasurers. The comptroller continued to receive copies of lists of unpaid non-resident taxes and of lands redeemed, and finally conveyed. County treasurers' sales were held in 1852, 1853, and 1854.

In 1855 (Chapter 427) the legislature restored the former system of comptroller's sales of non-resident lands. The dual notices to occupants were abolished, but notice to occupants still had to be served two years after the sale, and then filed with the comptroller.

The 1855 law also provided that no tax sale should affect the existing lien or a recorded mortgage. The tax sale purchaser was required to serve a notice on a mortgagee requesting payment of the tax lien within six months. If the mortgagee failed to pay, the mortgage lien was no longer valid.

In 1893 (Chapter 711) the legislature transferred the power to sell and convey lands for unpaid taxes to the county treasurers in all counties not containing lands in the Adirondack or Catskill Forest Preserves. The comptroller continued to conduct tax sales in Albany of non-resident lands in Forest Preserve counties.

Comptroller's sales now took place one year after failure to pay taxes, instead of two. Any person having an interest in property could redeem it from sale within one year, instead of two. At the end of the one-year redemption period the purchaser had to serve notice on any occupant that he had a further three months in which to redeem the property, or the conveyance would become absolute.

The recodifications of the tax law in 1896 and 1909 made few changes in the tax sale system as amended in 1893. Finally, in 1928, county treasurers were given the responsibility for sales of non-resident lands in Forest Preserve counties.

Scope and Content Note

These geographical registers record comptroller's tax-sales of lands of non-residents. Each entry gives lot number, year (or years) of unpaid tax; brief description of parcel; acreage, amount of tax due; when tax was paid (usually blank); by whom paid for what portion of land; amount paid; description of land remaining to be sold; amount of unpaid tax, interest, advertising charge, and sale charge; grand total due; description of parcel sold; acreage; name of purchaser; sale certificate number; date of redemption (if any); name of person redeeming; and amount paid to redeem parcel.

B0953-99: Information recorded in this accretion is consistent throughout for 1815-1926. A few volumes entitled "Outstanding" apparently duplicate information recorded in other volumes. For what purpose and by whom these volumes were created is unclear, but they may have been used to track refunds to the purchaser of the property if it was later redeemed by the original owner.

B0953-99A: This accretion consists of published volumes (51, including duplicates) listing lands to be sold for arrears of taxes. Most of the volumes were published before the sale year and were apparently used to advertise or provide a public listing of lands available. Information in the volumes usually includes name of town; lot number; description of property (including name of owner); and number of acres or lot size. Four volumes (apparently 1814-1821) consist of handwritten summaries including only names of tracts, lot numbers, and acres sold. A few other volumes contain manuscript notations.

A few volumes published after sales were held give the town; lot number; description; acres or quantity conveyed; amount paid; purchaser's name; and to whom conveyed. Volumes for tax sale years 1852-1854 consist of handwritten information on sales conducted by county treasurers.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of this material.

Related Information

Related Materials

Series B1615 New York State Comptroller's Office Registers of Cancelled Tax-sales, contains related information.

Other finding aids

B0953-99A: Most volumes contain index by county, then by town, then by name of tract.

B0953-99A: Volume list is available at the repository.

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