Town Council approves low interest plan to assist delinquent taxpayers

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MONROE, CT — Town Council members unanimously approved a low interest program for taxpayers who are late with payments at a special meeting Wednesday. It lowers the annual interest rate for delinquent taxes from 18 to three percent.

Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order giving municipalities a choice to adopt the low interest plan, one that extends the payment deadline by three months or both, because many taxpayers have lost their jobs and will have a hard time paying their tax bills.

“If we deferred it 90 days and everyone took advantage of that, we would run out of money in six weeks,” Board of Finance Chairman Michael Manjos said before his board recommended that the Town Council adopt the low interest program.

The low interest rate program reduces the statutory interest rate for delinquent taxes from 18 percent per year (1.5 percent a month) to three percent per year (0.25 percent a month). Taxes due on July 1, 2020 would still have a grace period to Aug. 3, 2020 with no interest. Taxes paid from Aug. 4 to Oct. 2, 2020 would be subject to the lower interest rate.

On Wednesday, Frank Lieto, who reviewed both tax programs, shared his legal report with the council. Manjos and Tax Collector Deborah Heim were also on hand to answer questions.

If the town adopted the deferment program, Lieto said the Town Council would have to decide who is eligible and come up with requirements, opening the town up to potential legal liability if it were to turn someone down.

Town officials would also have to figure out how to police and enforce fraud when applicants misrepresent facts while applying.

“Those are the concerns I have,” Lieto said, adding of the programs, “I’m not advocating any at this time.”

Lieto said the low interest program removes the eligibility requirements, because it applies to everybody but landlords, so it has less risks. Landlords who meet eligibility requirements are also allowed to participate.

After hearing input from Lieto, Heim and Manjos, Town Council members approved the low interest rate program by a vote of 9 to 0.

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