The number of property owners who were delinquent paying their property taxes rose 30 percent in the past year, acccording to delinquency notices filed this month in Superior Court.
There were 104 delinquent property owners in June.
The county filings, known as certificates of delinquency, are filed every June for property owners who have been delinquent for three years – in this case, property owners who didn’t pay their property taxes in 2007. Foreclosure proceedings on unpaid property taxes start three years after the delinquency begins, said Steve Larson, treasury systems manager for the county.
“I think it’s just the sign of the times, the economic times, and the difficulties people are having,” county Treasurer Shawn Myers said this week about the higher number of delinquencies. People who owe property taxes have until January to pay their bill or the property could be sold at auction, Larson said.
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Delinquent property owners still have some time to pay their bills, and Myers has taken an extra step, with County Commission approval, to provide relief.
Rather than require that all delinquent taxes during the three-year period be paid to halt the foreclosure process – which had been the policy since 2003 – delinquent taxpayers this year are required to pay only their taxes for 2007 and any year before that to delay the foreclsoure process until next year, she said.
In addition to the principal amount, the delinquent payments also include interest, costs and penalties, Myers said. She said the decision to collect just the taxes unpaid in 2007 or before will be evaluated at the end of the year.
“If it was beneficial, I will continue to do it,” she said.
Relatively few delinquencies result in property being sold at auction, although that number is inching higher, Larson said. Of the 80 delinquent property owners in 2009, 20 lost property to the foreclosure process, up from 12 in 2008 and four in 2007, he said.
Myers expects the number of delinquencies to increase next year, partly because the slower economy was just getting under way in 2007. “I anticipate it being an even bigger list next year,” she said.
Since the delinquencies were filed in court this month, the Treasurer’s Office has not seen a surge in payments, unlike in past years, Myers said.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403