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Tax commissioner wants to go after unpaid city taxes

EAST LIVERPOOL

EAST LIVERPOOL — East Liverpool Tax Commissioner Linda Harpold estimates that thousands in city income taxes remain uncollected, and she seeks to change that.

The city’s Finance Committee is considering a proposal by Harpold to outsource debt collection to the Ohio Attorney General, which would be at no cost to the city and would allow the income tax’s understaffed department to spend more time in locating and processing non-filer accounts.

According to documents furnished about the state’s program, in-house debt collectors will work the account up to 150 days (or longer as long as the debtor remains in compliance with their payment plan) and will access the debtor a 10 percent fee, which will be taken from each payment made on an account.

If Social Security numbers of the debtor are provided, the debt also may be subject to capture of a possible state income tax refund or lottery winnings for up to the full amount owed with interest.

Collections payments to the city would be remitted weekly.

East Liverpool residents usually fall into delinquency via one of two ways: either not filing a return in the first place or filing but not paying the tax that is due. “We have two filing cabinets full of delinquents now,” Harpold added.

Harpold explains that there is a $25 per month (up to $150) penalty accessed to taxpayers who fail to file on time. The penalty for a late payment is 15 percent of the unpaid balance plus interest.

The city had been using the City of Cleveland’s collection agency, which gave them access to Internal Revenue Service records, from 2009; however, their fees jumped from 5 percent to 25 percent.

According to Harpold, CCA collections were $44,232.20 in 2017 and $37,072.57 in 2018.

“I’m not trying to punish the ones who do pay or are trying, but it isn’t fair that so many don’t,” she concluded.

Credit card payments can be made online at www.officialpayments.com or by phone at 800-272-9829 (Jurisdiction code 8458). There will be an additional charge of $1.50 for phone payments or $3.95 for credit card payments.

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