The amount of delinquent property tax in Tooele County hit a new all time high in 2013.
Late taxpayers owed $2.75 million in property taxes last year, up from $1.9 million in 2012, a 45 percent increase, according to the annual list of delinquent taxes prepared by Tooele County Treasurer Jeremy Walker.
The $2.75 million in unpaid taxes is a new record for the county, passing the previous benchmark of $2 million set in 2010.
“The large jump in late taxes in 2013 was due to a couple of large taxpayers that were late in making their payment, not necessarily more people owing back taxes,” said Walker.
American Realty Capital, the owner of the building built for Reckitt Benckiser in the Miller Business Park, topped the list of delinquent taxpayers with an unpaid tax bill of $371,447 for 2013.
Community Health Systems, the Franklin, Tenn.-based owner of Mountain West Medical Center, was also on the delinquent list with $370,049.
Since Walker produced the delinquent taxpayer list on Dec. 31, both American Realty Capital and Community Health Systems have paid their 2013 tax bills.
County treasurers in Utah are required by state law to make public a list of delinquent taxpayers by Dec. 31 of each year.
The timing of tax notices and their wording, along with interest and penalties for late property tax payments, are all established by state law, Walker said.
Tax notices are mailed out before Nov.1 and taxes must be paid by Nov. 30 to avoid penalties.
A 1 percent late penalty is added to all property taxes that are paid after Nov. 30 but before Jan. 31. After Jan. 31 the late penalty increases to 2.5 percent. Interest, at 7 percent annually, is also added to late property taxes, according to Walker.
The county includes an adjustment for uncollected taxes when determining the certified tax rate for each year, which is the rate taxing entities use for budgeting. This allows entities to prepare budgets without needing to make provision for uncollected taxes.
State law gives property taxpayers five years to pay off their late taxes. If left unpaid after five years, the county can sell it at auction to recover back taxes.
The Tooele County Treasurer collects property taxes levied by: Tooele County; Tooele County School District; the cities and towns of Tooele, Grantsville, Wendover, Stockton, Rush Valley, Vernon, and Ophir; Stansbury Park Improvement District; Stansbury Park Green Belt Service Area; Stansbury Park Recreation Service Area; Lake Point Improvement District; and Lake Point Cemetery and Park Service Area.
It also collects for Tooele Valley Mosquito Abatement District; North Tooele County Fire Protection Service District; Rush Valley Water Conservancy; South Rim Special Service District; and the North Tooele City Special Service District.
When a delinquent payment is received, Walker passes on the tax payment and a portion of the collected interest to the taxing entities, following state law.
“Most of the delinquent taxpayers will pay their bill before the end of the five-year period,” he said. “We end up selling very little property.”
Prior to 2000, state law required counties to publish the delinquent taxpayer list in a local newspaper. In 2000 the state legislature changed the requirements for public notice of delinquent taxpayers and gave counties the option of publishing the list in a local newspaper or mailing a notice to property owners.
Newspapers would typically bill for publishing the list as a public notice.
In 2002 the legislature again modified the requirements for public notices, this time requiring a mailed notice and either a list published in a local newspaper or an electronic list accessible to the public.
Tooele County last published a list of delinquent taxpayers in the Dec. 27, 2001 edition of the Tooele-Transcript Bulletin. There are some counties in Utah that still pay for their delinquent tax lists to be published in a local newspaper.
Tooele County’s 2013 delinquent property taxpayers list can be found on the Tooele County Treasurer’s website at www.co.tooele.ut.us/treasurer.htm.