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City Tax Enforcers

By Mike McGarry

April 11, 2013

If our tax bills aren't hight enough now, make a mistake and watch them fly even higher. State legislation is brutal.

First of all, if you don't pay your taxes on time, you get hit with an 18% interest penalty, (1 1/2 percent per month). After awhile the taxes are such that the city could even take your property, or sell a tax lien.

Or, if you are a landlord with over 6 units, and don't file an annual income and expense report you get charged a 10% penalty on the assessed value of your property. This paperwork must be in by June 1st every year. On June 2nd, the law kicks in. Any questions about extensions or changes of ownership, talk to the assessor's office right away. Time is your enemy!

The most odious of all is the penalty on personal property taxes. All businesses must file a list of business personal property: fixtures, furniture, computers etc... By November 1st, every year, if you slip up you face a 25% penalty! For the last two years, the Governor gave extensions because of the storms - but don't ever count on these historic occurances. Special circumstances can get a short extension from the assessor, but, again, time is not your side.

Now, if you are in a pickle, and can't pay for legitimate reasons - health, fire, unemployment, tenants who don't pay ... talk to the tax collector. He can, and often does, work out a “plan.” You must pay, however the city does not want your property if there is any other option.

All this said, our property tax system is rapidly going out of date. With home offices, 3D printers, and values of property dropping, other ideas must come forward. Europe has value added taxes, some states seem to live on other cash flows - look at Florida's property taxes.

Suggestions have been made that the city sales tax go to 1% (like N.Y. state county sales taxes).

Anyhow, no matter how small government gets, we still need police and fire personnel, roads and trash pick-ups. Money has to come from somewhere. Just imagine, your reporter admitting that!

Reprinted with permission of the The Hartford News.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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