Updated Mon, Jan 27, 2014 10:47 am
Athens City Auditor Kathy Hecht updated City Council Monday evening about the amount of past-due city income taxes collected in 2013.
Last year, the city contracted with Central Collection Agency (the city of Cleveland) in order to find income taxes due to the city from the years 2006-2010.
Cleveland is the only municipality in the state of Ohio with access to confidential Internal Revenue Service federal income tax information.
Only municipalities with more than 225,000 taxpayers can apply to get access to IRS records.
It is this access that allowed CCA to compare federal returns to the city of Athens’ income tax roster to find potential delinquent taxpayers.
According to Hecht, the CCA collected $203,057 in back taxes from those who lived or worked in the city during those years.
The auditor’s office collected an additional $85,250 in-house for a total of $288,307.
The city also held a tax amnesty period in 2013, which forgave penalties and fines for those who paid past-due taxes during that time frame.
The amnesty period generated another $52,037 in past-due revenue for the city, making the total past-due income tax revenue collection $340,344 in 2013.
The auditor’s office has contracted with the CCA again this year in order to capture past due income taxes for 2011. Hecht said the revenue from past-due tax collections will be significantly lower this year.
On Monday, she told Council her office is hopeful to collect $50,000 in 2011 past-due taxes, but said that could be “wishful thinking.”
Hecht told The Messenger in December that city income tax collections would have been down approximately $100,000 if it had not been for the CCA collections.
On Monday, Hecht said that assessment letters have gone out to residents who ignored the first two letters sent by the CCA.
She emphasized that residents who receive letters should not ignore them as legal action is the next step for those who may owe back taxes.
She added that her office is willing to help delinquent taxpayers.
“If anyone calls our office, and this has been the case all along, we absolutely will help them.
We have helped many people. (Athens City Tax Administrator Tina Timberman) is very nice to work with,” Hecht said.
Hecht added that some people who don’t owe taxes or owe very little may have received letters from the CCA as well.
She said those individuals are also encouraged to contact the CCA or the auditor’s office.
“A lot of people didn’t owe us money but we had no way of knowing that unless they responded to the letters,” she said.
Hecht said the city auditor’s office will also work with those who may have trouble paying for past-due taxes.
“If they know they owe and think they’re going to have a problem paying, we will work with them on that also,” she said.
Anyone who lives or works within the city limits of Athens is required to pay the 1.65 percent income tax.
For information, contact the city auditor’s office at 592-3336.