from the Arizona Tax Court No. TX2016-000893 The Honorable
Christopher T. Whitten, Judge.
Brentwood Law Group PLLC, Tempe By Stephen Brower Co-Counsel
Arpad Esq., Phoenix By Alexander R. Arpad Co-Counsel for
County Attorney's Office, Kingman By Lenore Knudtson
Counsel for Defendants/Appellees
James B. Morse Jr. delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Presiding Judge Kenton D. Jones and Judge Diane M.
In this opinion, we hold that A.R.S. § 42-11004 does not
require a property owner to pay delinquent taxes before suing
in tax court to challenge the sale of a property tax lien
under A.R.S. § 42-18105. Accordingly, we vacate and
remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In 2010, Majid Nayeri and Bita Abidian
("Taxpayers") purchased real property in Mohave
County (the "County") identified by parcel number
216-06-155 (the "Property"). Since that time, they
have paid the property taxes as they have come due.
The Property is located in an area known as the
"Disputed Triangle," a triangular-shaped piece of
land east of the Colorado River near the Fort Mojave Indian
Reservation. See United States v. Aria, CV
9401624-PCT-PGR, 2009 WL 331356, at *1 (D. Ariz. Feb. 11,
2009), appeal dismissed, No. 09-15714 (9th Cir.
March 3, 2010) (hereinafter, "Aria"). In
1994, long before Taxpayers purchased the Property, the
federal government filed the Aria lawsuit to
determine whether the Disputed Triangle should be held in
trust for the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe (the
"Tribe"). See id. In 2009, the District
Court ruled in Aria that the federal government, on
behalf of the Tribe, had no claim to the Disputed Triangle.
See id. at *10.
During the 15 years the Aria case was pending, the
County did not collect property taxes on the affected parcels
and made no demand for payment. In 2010, after the
Aria case ended, the County demanded payment of all
past due taxes and told property owners that "delinquent
taxes due on the parcels involved will be sold at future tax
lien sales unless payment arrangements are made with the
Treasurer." Taxpayers admit that some taxes accrued on
the Property before 2010 and have not been
paid. In 2016, the County offered to waive
the interest and fees accrued through June 2010 if Taxpayers
would pay the base property tax, plus interest accrued after
July 2010, totaling $37, 486.40. Taxpayers refused the
The County Treasurer sent Taxpayers a Delinquent Tax Notice
in January 2017 threatening to sell the tax liens on the
Property if payment was not made. Taxpayers did not pay, and
the County offered the tax liens for years 2003-2009 on the
Property at its February 2017 tax lien sale. After the liens
went unsold, they were assigned to the state.
Meanwhile, Taxpayers joined a lawsuit filed by other Disputed
Triangle property owners seeking a declaratory judgment that
the County's sales of tax liens on their properties were
time-barred. The parties filed cross-motions for
summary judgment. After oral argument, the tax court granted
summary judgment in favor of the County, concluding that
A.R.S. § 42-11004 prohibited Taxpayers from challenging
the sale of the liens unless and until they paid the
After an unsuccessful motion for new trial, Taxpayers
appealed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to ...