The Office of the Tax Collector in Greenwich has identified a list of properties that are delinquent for between one and 15 years.
Tax Collector Howard Richman, who challenged incumbent Tod Laudonia in November 2017 and won, said owners of about 100 properties were mailed letters this week.
The sum of the delinquent taxes, according to Mr. Richman, in the $5 million range. Individual property owners who were sent letters this week owe between $25,000 and $400,000.
“We have a base number, and everyone who falls above it was sent a tax collector demand notice,” he said, without indicating that base number. “They inform property owners that they are delinquent and are asked to call us. If we don’t hear from them by March 15th we have the opportunity to take action.”
Richman said the idea is to collect the revenue for the Town that should have been paid.
For tax payers who do not pay on time, interest accrues at 1.5% a month which equals 18% a year.
The letters ask delinquent taxpayers to contact the Office of Tax Collector and discuss options.
In all capital letters, the notice states,
“Hello Taxpayer. Please do not ignore this notice which is intended to inform you that back tax is owed to the Town of Greenwich. The grand total owed can be found on the last page.”
“Failure to pay by March 15, 2019 will give the tax collector the option of taking action to collect the debt. CT General statutes section 12-155 allows tax collectors to:
(1) levy for any unpaid tax or any unpaid water or sanitation charges on any goods and chattels of such person and post and sell such goods and chattels in the manner provided in case of executions, or
(2) enforce by levy and sale any lien or warrant upon real estate for any unpaid tax or levy upon and sell such interest of such person in any real estate as exists at the date of the levy for such tax.
“One of the options if the delinquencies are not cleared up in a timely manner is to hold a tax sale in which we will auction off the properties. We hope to not have to take further action because we expect tax payers will come and pay their delinquencies,” Richman said.
The Office of Tax Collector has not conducted a tax sale since Lou Caravella held the position. Some years ago Caravella hung photos of the delinquent properties in the town hall lobby. The tactic worked and the property owners ponied up their back taxes plus interest.
Richman said the town doesn’t want to sell the properties, just to settle the outstanding balances.
“The Town of Greenwich is not a bank. It is a municipality that needs operating funds to continue to offer the services that the tax payer is accustom to.” – Howard Richman
Richman said the delinquent properties run the gamut from cottage to mansion.
“Tax for even small modest houses can multiply if they haven’t been paid in years,” he said.
If there were to be a tax sale, the properties would be posted and bids made in an auction.
Usually the bids are lower than the property would fetch on the market.
Richman, a Democrat, who took office in 2018 announced in January his intent to run for a second term.