Late taxpayers in Tooele County owe a combined total of $2,396,712 in property taxes for 2016, according to Tooele County Treasurer Mike Jensen.
As treasurer, Jensen is the tax collector for all entities in Tooele County that can levy property tax.
“Most of the delinquent taxes get paid eventually,” he said. “State law gives property owners five years to pay their taxes, with interest and penalties, before the property can be sold in an auction to recover back taxes.”
Property tax payment notices are mailed 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 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 Jensen.
“The penalties, interest rates and deadlines are set by state statute, not by the county,” he said.
If property taxes, along with interest and penalties, aren’t paid within five years, the property is sold in a public auction conducted by the county auditor in May.
Tooele County Clerk/Auditor Marilyn Gillette auctioned six properties in 2016. Owners of the six properties owed a collective $6,228 in property taxes, interest and penalties.
All six parcels were unimproved lots. They ranged from 0.02 acres to 1.4 acres.
“Before we auction off a parcel we attempt to contact the property owner by sending a letter to the address we have on file,” Gillette said. “If there is a house on the property, we go out and knock on the door.”
The property owner can reclaim the property by paying the back taxes, interest and fees up until the time the auction starts, according to Gillette.
The 2016 list of delinquent property taxes in Tooele County has 1,833 parcels of land with taxes due ranging from $2.99 to $205,712.
An adjustment for uncollected taxes is included in the process of setting the tax rate for each year. This allows entities to prepare budgets without needing to make provision for uncollected taxes.
However, an unusually large amount of unpaid taxes in one year could leave a taxing entity short of its budgeted property tax revenue, Jensen said.
The 2016 delinquent property tax of $2.39 million is $400,000 more than 2015’s $1.99 million delinquent property taxes.
Out of the nearly $2 million, in delinquent property taxes owed on Dec. 31, 2015, all but $633,673 was paid by the Dec. 31, 2016.
Delinquent property tax payments reached an all time high of $2.75 million in 2013.
The county treasurer serves as the tax collector for all taxing entities in the county. Jensen collects property taxes levied by Tooele County; Tooele County School District; cities and towns of Tooele, Grantsville, Wendover, Stockton, Rush Valley, and Vernon; 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.
Jensen also collects for Tooele Valley Mosquito Abatement District, North Tooele County Fire District, Rush Valley Water Conservancy, South Rim Special Service District, and the North Tooele City Special Service District.
As per state law, when a delinquent payment is received, Jensen passes on the tax payment and a portion of the collected interest to taxing entities.
County treasurers in Utah are required by state law to make public a list of delinquent taxpayers by Dec. 31 of each year.
One of the reasons for making a public list of delinquent property taxes is to reach out to property owners who have changed addresses but did not inform the county of their new address.
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.
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.
The 2016 list of delinquent Tooele County property taxpayers list can be found on the county treasurer’s website at www.co.tooele.ut.us/treasurer.htm.