Dealing with a Delinquent Tax Notice That Isn’t Yours

Q: “My mom is getting a delinquent tax notice for royalties that she never received nor has she ever signed with an oil or gas company who drilled a gas well on her neighbor’s property. We are working to get it off. What if we can’t get a resolution from the gas company?”

A: This sounds like a complicated situation for which you’ve given me very little information. But since my in‑laws recently sold a home that was located on many acres of land where an oil and gas company wanted to buy leasing rights in order to do drilling, I think I may have a clue as to what you’re talking about.

It sounds as if your mom lives adjacent to a neighbor who, perhaps, has allowed someone to drill a gas well on that neighbor’s property. In exchange for those drilling rights, that neighbor likely received royalties or payments from the gas company. Those payments are taxable. In this case, though, it seems as if your mom is the person who actually received the tax notice for those royalty payments.

The simple solution here is to write to the local tax authority that has corresponded with you ‑‑ it might be the city, the county, or the state ‑‑ and indicate to them that your mom, does not have ownership of that neighbor’s property, nor does she have ownership of the oil rights to that property, and has not, in fact, ever received any royalties from the oil or gas company in question.

The key here is not necessarily to get a resolution from the gas company. The key is to get a resolution from whomever it is that’s sending you the delinquent tax notice, and I assume that is not the gas company.

Your strategy should be to go to the government agency that is sending you the tax notice, and notify them that this is not your property.

You can also include, if you have it, some proof of your mother’s correct address.

Perhaps you can send the state or local taxing agency a copy of a driver’s license with your mom’s true address on it. Maybe she has a property survey or something similar that indicates her lot size, address and its particular boundaries. All of this would help show that she does not own, nor is she financially responsible for, that neighbor’s property.