Sunday, June 17, 2012
Avella vs. property tax cheats
From the Times Ledger:
Citing apparent attempts to beat the system, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) criticized the city Department of Finance, accusing it of allowing delinquent property owners who failed to pay their property taxes to remove their properties from the annual tax lien sale by submitting fraudulent checks.
According to Avella, property owners have exploited the system by knowingly submitting checks that later bounced, removing them from the annual tax lien sale. He said Finance had no means of detecting such an act and only enacted a $20 penalty for the bounced checks.
Additionally, Avella said he took issue with the payment plans Finance would organize with the apparently negligent property owners without requiring a down payment. The forsaken land, Avella said, eventually becomes an eyesore in the surrounding communities when property owners fail to pay the taxes due.
A Finance representative said the department was looking into the issue and considering ways to alleviate the supposed fraudulent activities.
“The fact that the Department of Finance is letting these negligent property owners game the system is unacceptable,” Avella said. “Every year the city is being cheated out of much needed property tax revenue.”
In response, Avella introduced legislation in the Senate to force the city to require payment of delinquent charges by certified check or money order, eliminating the bouncing check schemes. The bill would also require a 20 percent down payment for any proposed installment plan, Avella said.