Delinquent taxpayers could have vehicles seized

Published 9:49 am Thursday, April 14, 2011

Each Virginia Auction and Collection Company vehicle is equipped with two cameras to help capture license plate information and alert workers of vehicles whose drivers are delinquent in paying personal property tax. -- Dale Liesch | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—Residents in the City of Franklin and Southampton County delinquent on personal property taxes could have their vehicles seized and sold at auction.

Isle of Wight County instituted a similar program in February 2010 and has collected nearly 20 percent of its outstanding personal property tax, said Treasurer Judy Wells.

“It’s a very good tool,” Wells said. “It gets people’s attention.”

Tucker said 98 percent of personal property tax delinquencies on vehicles are squared away quickly and only about 2 percent make of seized vehicles make it to the auction stage.

Franklin and Southampton County are working with Virginia Auction and Collection Co. to help collect the back taxes.

“This company is being used by other localities, and we feel this is something we need to use to collect back personal property tax,” City Treasurer Dinah Babb told Council members Monday.

The city is owed $425,000 in personal property taxes out of a total of $22 million assessed from 2006-2010, Babb said. Southampton County Treasurer David Britt said his office is waiting for $938,000 out of a total of $33 million assessed from 2006-2010.

“There is a lot of money that needs to be collected,” Britt said.

Starting around May 1, residents of Franklin and Southampton County, who are six or more months behind on personal property tax payments, will be subject to the collection program.

The company has two cars equipped with two cameras and a computer. Employees travel the Hampton Roads area, scanning vehicle license plates, searching for the vehicles of owners on a delinquent tax list.

The company will then put a boot and a notice on a vehicle if the owner is on the delinquent list and give that owner until the local treasurers’ office closes that same day to square things away before the vehicle is towed.

A $30 fee will be assessed to remove the boot once the tax issue is resolved, VAC field agent supervisor Jerry Tucker said.

“We’re not repo-men,” said VAC field agent supervisor Stewart Black. “We try to give the citizen as much information as we can and we don’t leave anyone stranded.”

He said the company is willing to pay the cost of a taxi, but will want reimbursed when the resident settles his tax issue.

VAC is paid from revenue obtained in vehicle seizure fees and 20 percent of the delinquent tax payments.

Babb said residents receive at least three notices of delinquency before they are put on the delinquent list and subjected to seizure. She added that those on the list, or in danger of being put on the list, should come by the treasurer’s office to settle the matter.

“A citizen can come sit down and we can make up a payment plan,” Babb said. “As long as they remain on the payment plan, they can be taken off the list.”