The Norman Transcript

Government

June 11, 2013

Aggressive tax collections gain schools money

NORMAN — Moore schools and other beneficiaries of property taxes could lose $2.5 million in revenue as a result of recent tornadoes, Cleveland County Assessor David Tinsley said Monday.

That figure does not include other Cleveland County losses in the Little Axe area. Fortunately for area schools, County Treasurer Jim Reynolds collected delinquent property taxes at a higher level this year. That money could help offset some of the losses.

“The preliminary figures show a loss in assessments of $15,068,708,” Tinsley said. “This would equate to $1,674,284 in lost taxes to the Moore area. That figure may go as high as $22,000,000 assessed or $ 2,500,000 in tax dollars.”

By fortunate coincidence, Reynolds, after consulting with the district attorney’s office, decided to pursue full collection of back property taxes this year.

“As we interpreted the law, once taxes are delinquent, all taxes are payable,” Reynolds said. “Prior to this year, they had been allowing them to pay the oldest year taxes to avoid the resale, but they owed so much more that weren’t making it to the schools and to the county.”

Starting last year, Reynolds had his staff warn people that the collection of delinquent taxes was going to change to include all taxes owed to avoid property being sold in the treasurer’s June resale. At first, some were upset and angry and feared they could not raise the money, he said, but in the end, people found ways to pay.

Reynolds commended his staff for working with the owners of record to bring the taxes up to date. He said no one lost property because they could not afford to pay the tax.

Getting caught up benefited the property owner as well as the schools and the county. Delinquent taxes are subject to 18 percent interest annually. Most owners were grateful that the treasurer’s staff worked with them, setting up payments to get them current on their taxes, he said.

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