Behind On Your Taxes? Soon Your Neighbors Might Know About It
July 04, 2009
HARTFORD — - A veteran council member thinks the city should publish names and last known addresses of tax deadbeats to help track down people before removing their accounts from the active tax rolls.
Veronica Airey-Wilson, on the council for the last 16 years, believes publicity could help the city collect even more delinquent taxes by letting people know who owes money, such as unpaid real estate and car taxes.
She first raised the proposal June 29 at a special council meeting when the council approved the routine, annual transfer of uncollectable back taxes from active tax rolls to an account called the Suspense Book. At the meeting, the council moved $563,750 in uncollected personal property taxes dating back to the 2003 grand list.
The council was having a special meeting that night with a limited agenda, so her request could not be acted on. She said later she'll propose it again, perhaps at the next regular council meeting.
"I don't think publicity is illegal, and it might motivate some people to come in and pay what they owe," she said Wednesday. "I've been on the council for 16 years, and almost every year we move uncollected accounts to the Suspense Book and you never hear another word about it. I'd like to see a more aggressive stance by the city."
Marc Nelson, the city tax collector, said Thursday that moving an account to the Suspense Book is only an accounting function for doubtful collections.
"It does not imply in any way that collection activity ceases," Nelson said.
The city continues its collection efforts, including suing debtors, attaching income or assets, issuing "alias tax warrants" to force payment and using outside collection agencies to pursue overdue accounts, he said.
He said he's not aware of previous publication by the city of the names of delinquent taxpayers. Also, the city assigns delinquent liens to outside lien-buyers, he said, "so we have not had the need to use publication as a means to spur collection."
Collection agencies use various databases to track down debtors, sometimes years after the person's tax bill has become delinquent, Nelson said.
These efforts continue after an account is moved to Suspense Book, he said.
"Just yesterday the tax office received payment on a tax assessed on the grand list of 1992 that had been the subject of an action brought in Small Claims Court. In that example, the tax had been moved to Suspense many years ago," Nelson said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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