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Sunday, February 01, 2009
Our Property Tax Pain---Part Two
As indicated in our last post, we have brought the facts of the unfair application of the Property Tax collection process to the attention of the Weber County Commission. We have also asked Gage Froerer our State Representative and Allen Christensen our State Senator to weigh in.
We have contacted Governor Huntsman’s office and been referred to the Utah State Tax Committee on this matter. We feel it is ironic that the Governor is talking about cutbacks and job layoffs when all this uncollected and delinquent money is out there ($100 Million in Utah, Salt Lake, Davis and Weber Counties alone) waiting to be collected.
We can report that the Weber County Commission is investigating and has found that about $14 million is owed in Weber County in delinquent property taxes as of this date.
Simply stated, the current property tax collection process used by Weber County and other Utah counties, has provided a loophole for some business and developer property owners who choose to use it to avoid paying their yearly property taxes for up to almost 5 years before sale or foreclosure. During this time period of non payment, they are assessed only a 2% penalty and about 6.5% interest. In effect, this a low cost loan courtesy of the County and State (which really means the rest of us taxpayers).
We, the other taxpayers meanwhile provide the money for the State and County services when we pay our property taxes on time every year.
We have suggested to Gage Froerer and Allen Christensen that they sponsor a bill to increase the penalty to 10% and the interest to 18%. (California’s current rates) to encourage these delinquent taxpayers to pay on time, and that change could put millions of dollars back into the tax cash flow for the County and State. This additional influx of usable tax funds could delay new tax increases and in the long term, possibly reduce future property taxes.
This penalty and interest change would ONLY affect delinquent taxpayers and would not change the property tax appeal process or the County Commissioner’s ability to rule on waivers or appeals as they do now.
The intent of this change is to target the elite, mostly large landowners and businesses that exploit this tax loophole to avoid taxes until the last moment and thus place the tax burden on the rest of us.
One final point, if this current collection process is such a good deal for the counties and State as some have said, and the taxes are always paid in the end, why doesn't the Governor and all of our political leaders go before the public and encourage them to use this same tax loophole? If it is a good thing for the large property and business owners, why is it not good enough for the rest of us to defer our property taxes for more than four years?
We remind you that this tax issue affects all Weber County and Utah property taxpayers and we encourage you to write or call our leaders at the County and State levels. As long as this current collection process remains unchanged, you, the on time taxpayers will be paying the upfront tab.
Larry and Sharon Zini
Governor Huntsman: 801-538-1000 or 800-705-2464
Allen Christensen, State Senator: email@example.com
Gage Froerer, State Representative: firstname.lastname@example.org
Weber County Commissioners: 801-399-8406