First tax deadline passes

Local returns on property taxes from independent tax collectors are in, marking the first tax deadline before properties are subject to sale.

According to Warren County Treasurer and Tax Claim Bureau Director Denny Munksgard, of the approximately 28,000 parcels subject to property tax, 3,178 have been returned to the county for failure to pay county, municipal or school taxes.

According to Munksgard, this is within the usual range for this time of year, which he estimated to be between 3,000 and 3,500 parcels.

For the tax year, which runs concurrent with the calendar spanning Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, Warren County sends out a single bill on Aug. 1 for the entire year.

Local tax collectors then have until the last Monday in April to collect property taxes, which provide the collector with a commission, before uncollected returns have to be returned to the county tax claims bureau. The bureau must file claims by the end of June before properties with unpaid taxes are advertised for sale at the end of July.

“People ask, ‘When do I need to pay by to stay out of the paper?'” Munksgard said. “It’s July 1.”

According to Munksgard, an average of approximately 800 properties fail to meet the deadline each year in Warren County.

Parcels listed for sale then incur advertising costs that are added to the bill, in addition to fees from collectors, and a nine percent interest fee for late payment.

“Once the tax claims bureau has the parcel, you can make payments,” Munksgard said, adding that payment plans can be arranged by contacting the bureau. “You can’t do that with the collectors.”

Of the 800, Munksgard estimates that approximately 150 to 200 properties will “expose to sale” at the annual tax sale at 1 p.m. on the second Monday in September.

Only properties two years behind on payment are vulnerable to sale.

While taxes can be paid any time up to the sale, property owners waiting until the last minute may want to get there sooner.

According to Munksgard, as of this year, the last day to pay taxes will be the end of office hours on the business day before the sale, or 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6. Unlike in previous years, the office will not be open the day of the sale.

“What was happening was people were coming in on the day of the sale and trying to pay while we were preparing for the sale,” Munksgard said.

Munksgard pointed out he is sending out information on delinquent payments earlier this year.

“They were using the sale notice as a reminder,” Munksgard said. “The notice isn’t a reminder that you have three weeks to pay your taxes. It’s a notice we’re moving towards sale. I’m in here to collect your taxes, not sell your property.”