You asked: Many options available for those behind on taxes

Published 10:22 am Saturday, June 25, 2011

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You asked: What are my options if I owe personal property taxes?

FRANKLIN—For those behind on personal property taxes, there are options.

Franklin Treasurer Dinah Babb said she is more than happy to help residents pay off delinquent tax bills to avoid the seizure of vehicles from Virginia Auction and Collection Co.

“It’s on a case-by-case basis,” Babb said. “By talking with the customer, we can find a solution that works for both them and the treasury department.”

Information on residents whose personal property taxes are at least six months late is given to Virginia Auction. Southampton County Treasurer David Britt said once the bills go out in December, taxes will be considered delinquent in three months.

Using license-plate readers equipped with the treasurers’ information, Virginia Auction employees scan cars in parking lots, driveways and streets. Once the reader locates a license plate matching a delinquent account, the agent verifies the vehicle’s identification and boots the car. The agent also places a warrant explaining the seizure on the vehicle. A note is left for the owner to call the treasurer’s office to settle the tax account.

Babb said delinquent taxpayers who sign a payment contract and make the first payment will be taken off the list given to Virginia Auction, however if the taxpayer fails to pay the bill down consistently, the information will be given back to the company.

“We’ve probably made 75 payment agreements since we’ve started this collection process,” Babb said.

Britt said the county would also work to create payment plans with residents.

“We will look at each individual situation if they’ve already been put on the list,” Britt said.

Both Babb and Britt agree the new collections process has been effective.

The city has seen $58,000 paid since the contract with Virginia Auction went into effect in late May. As of last week, the county has received $159,000 in delinquent tax payments.

In both cases only a fraction of the totals can be attributed to the physical booting and towing of cars, the rest comes from word-of-mouth.

“It is absolutely working because we’ve received more revenue through word-of-mouth,” Babb said. “We don’t want vehicles to get booted because we citizens need them to get around, but as a constitutional officer, it is my duty to collect taxes.”