It has become obvious in recent months that the property tax collection efforts as applied in Weber County have some serious flaws. It has come to our attention that there is possibly millions of dollars of uncollected and delinquent property taxes listed on the Weber County Web site.
The immediate response from the County Commission was that the Utah State Tax code prevents them from more aggressive collection of property taxes. That is simply not true. Section 59-2-1358 clearly provides the county with ample latitude to collect these delinquent taxes up to the final act of foreclosure.
In fact, the County did pass a minor change in 2008 regarding subdivisions that provides better leverage to collect delinquent accounts. This could be expanded beyond subdivisions to include all delinquent taxes from any developer. Weber County has many options that could be explored with some innovative thinking and application.
Our subsequent e-mail to Jan Zogmaister included some possible options for the County to consider for collection prior to foreclosure.
It is our unhappy duty to report that according to Jan Zogmaister today, the Commission is already involved in many issues regarding the county and state and she did not mention any plans to investigate or rectify this tax issue.
All the information below on taxes is available at the Weber County Web Site; it is part of the public record.
We took a sample of just 6 property owners in Ogden Valley where we live, and found that those six owe $334,000 in delinquent property taxes just for the tax year of 2007. We also found that most of them owe more for other years including the tax year of 2008.
If this sample in Ogden Valley is indicative of the entire Weber County tax base, there could be millions of uncollected and delinquent property taxes due in our County.
What makes this unacceptable is that the rest of the property owners that pay their property taxes on time, bear the burden of carrying these delinquent accounts until they are paid. In some cases this may take up to 5 years since many delinquent tax payers wait for the sale of their property before paying.
The most insidious hidden part of this process is when the land or home is sold and the delinquent taxes are finally paid, the selling property owners increase the price of the property to cover the delinquent taxes plus the penalty and interest that they pay for being delinquent. This additional cost for the property works it’s way into the tax evaluation system and results in higher property taxes for everyone in the area.
If anyone is under the impression that this is a insignificant amount of money, we suggest you visit the Weber County Web Site and review the delinquent lists starting in 2008, and back several years.
In addition, we would suggest your read the article by Lee Davidson in the Deseret News today regarding delinquent taxes.
This is a major misuse of taxpayer money, in effect almost a “Ponzi” scheme with taxpayer money. If you are unhappy about “carrying” these delinquent tax payers to the tune of millions of dollars, let your county commissioners and the Utah Governor know about it. The e-mail addresses for all Utah officials can be found at the VCRD web site http://vcrdutah.org/county.html.
Larry and Sharon Zini