County pursues delinquent taxes


(Posted Aug. 13, 2015)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Madison County Treasurer Donna Landis and County Prosecutor Stephen Pronai are working together to lower the amount of delinquent taxes owed to the county. Their efforts are paying off.

On July 27, Landis reported that the county collected $49,725,000 in taxes in 2014, with just $1.2 million left uncollected in delinquent taxes.

One reason for the lower delinquency number is treasurer’s sales. When a taxpayer who is behind on payments does not respond to correspondence about their delinquency, the treasurer’s office can foreclose on their property.

Landis began holding treasurer’s sales for the first time last year. To her knowledge, the treasurer’s office has never pursued them before. Now, with the prosecutor’s assistance, the office works on about four sales per month.

“It takes a lot of work. Sometimes, (the property owners) are hard to find or they are deceased,” Landis said about the process of setting up a foreclosure sale.

The result, though, is money recouped to offset the tax delinquency. Additionally, in some cases, the properties that are sold were abandoned eyesores.

“At least a couple of them have been rehabbed” by the purchasers, Landis said, “so they’re not just sitting there anymore.”

While foreclosure is an effective way to recoup delinquent taxes, Landis said she views it as a last resort. She’d rather work with the taxpayer to come up with a payment plan as allowed by state law, she said.

The state offers two options for payment plans, a 2.5-year plan and a 5-year plan. By each collection due date, taxpayers pay one-fifth or one-tenth of what they owe in back taxes, depending on which plan they choose. They also must pay their current taxes. Taxes are collected twice a year.

Landis said she has 25 to 30 delinquent taxpayers on contracts now, which will bring in $255,000 of the $1.2 million still owed from last year. While it’s not everything, it’s making a good dent, she said.

“We’ve never had a big, high delinquency rate in Madison County,” she continued. “There are a lot of counties out there with much bigger delinquencies… but I’d still like to see ours down to $500,000.”


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