Charlotte homebuyer gets stuck with previous owner's $22,000 tax bill

Charlotte homebuyer gets stuck with previous owner's $22,000 tax bill

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Dr. Catie Carlson bought her house in Cotswold, the title looked clean.

But, a few months later, she found out the person she bought it from owed $22,560 in taxes.

"Floored. I mean, just floored," she told Action 9's Jason Stoogenke.

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She thought the title search would have caught that, but it didn't.  "It's wrong," she said.

Like a lot of people, when Carlson pays her mortgage every month, her lender, SunTrust, sets aside part for taxes. So the bank went ahead and paid the $22,000 bill, apparently without telling her first.

When Carlson found out, she thought her title insurance-- Investors Title-- would cover the tab.

After all, that's what title insurance is for.

One expert told Stoogenke, "That is definitely something the title insurance company should have caught and would be responsible to sort out and make right at this point."

But the company sent her a letter saying it wouldn't. It gave Carlson a complicated explanation involving timing and dates.

So, Carlson said, she spoke with Mecklenburg County tax officials and that they promised to refund the money and go after the previous owner, but changed their mind without saying why. "Nobody claims responsibility and everyone, everyone involved acknowledges that it's wrong.  Even the County said, 'Yeah, that's not your bill,'" she said. "I felt kind of violated."

Now, she's thinking of taking legal action.

Stoogenke called the previous owner-- who now lives close to the North Carolina coast-- and left a message.

Stoogenke emailed county tax officials which said, now that Carlson is considering legal action, county lawyers would need to respond. So far, after multiple requests, they have not.

Stoogenke also reached out to SunTrust and Investors Title to get their sides of the story.

Two weeks later, they have yet to answer.

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