Delinquent taxpayers are costing Tooele County a pretty penny.
Hundreds of taxpayers owed the county $1.7 million in delinquent property taxes as of the end of the year. That amount, which is spread over 2,397 parcels, is down by 2.7 percent from the amount owed by delinquent taxpayers for 2011.
In 2010, the amount of delinquent taxes rose to an all-time high of $2 million past due.
“Taxpayers are better able to pay their property taxes on time this year,” said Jeremy Walker, Tooele County Treasurer.
The timing of tax notices, their wording, interest and penalties for late property tax payments are all established by state law, according to Walker. The notices are mailed out before Nov.1 and taxes must be paid by Nov. 30 to avoid late penalties.
Walker is also required by state law to publish a list of delinquent taxpayers by Dec. 31. He mailed out an additional delinquency notice to all property owners with delinquent taxes in July 2012. That mailing met with moderate success at collecting some late payments, Walker said.
The majority of delinquent taxpayers are developers who delay paying taxes on their property intentionally as a business decision.
In the end, most of these developers will pay their tax bill plus a 7 percent interest penalty mandated by state law before their property ends up being sold by the county following five years of delinquency, according to Walker.
“Most of the delinquent taxpayers will pay their bill before the end of the five-year period,” said Walker. “We end up selling very little property.”
The top 10 delinquent taxpayers in Tooele County owe a combined total of $381,271, or 22 percent of the total delinquent tax bill. The first eight names on that list are all property developers or investors.
L&B Development, the developer of the Benches at South Rim, owes the largest amount of any delinquent taxpayer with a bill of $79,595 for 2012.
Other property on the top 10 delinquent list include parcels in South Willow Estates, Rancho Tooele Development, Copper Canyon subdivision, Carriage Crossing, and Spring Canyon Estates subdivisions as well as the old Central School and property north of Pine Canyon Road. The top 10 list also includes the former Tracks Restaurant and Brewery location and a professional office complex in Stansbury Park.
The county includes an adjustment for uncollected taxes when determining the certified tax rate, which is the rate taxing entities use for budgeting. This allows the entities to prepare budgets without needing to make provision for uncollected taxes.
When late taxpayers finally pay their property tax, which may be as much as five years later, the amount of the tax, along with 40 percent of the interest, is passed on to the taxing entities, according to Walker.
“Late payments can be an unexpected windfall to some agencies,” said Walker.