Thursday, March 16, 2017

County delegates authority to to waive penalties and interest

The Catoosa County board of commissioners has delegated the authority to waive penalties and interest for unpaid property taxes to the Catoosa County tax commissioner. Previously each decision to approve waivers were coming before the county board. Now the tax commissioner will be able to make these approvals on his own. From the Rome News Tribune:
...Tax Commissioner Gary Autry had adjustments made to how his office will handle penalties and interest fees on property taxes.
County Attorney Skip Patty proposed a resolution giving Autry the power to waive those charges for individuals if he sees fit.
"This would give the tax commissioner the ability to waive only the penalties and interest if the party's failure to pay was not due to willful neglect," Patty said.
In other words, Autry can decided on a case-by-case basis to waive those extra fees if a person accrued the extra debt due to some sort of hardship.
Patty said other counties like nearby Whitfield have this practice, but that long-time tax commissioner Sandra Self didn't want that responsibility, and left those decisions up to the Board of Commissioners.
"This resolution would prevent the board from having to handle each individual case," Patty said. "The tax commissioner would need to make a notation on each case and that would then become public record."
The board unanimously approved the resolution.

In Decatur, the authority to waive penalties and interest rests with the city manager or her designee. Some late payers expect front-line staff to be able to waive their late fees; however, there needs to be some checks and balances in the system. Auditors usually don't like for employees who charge the fees to be the same ones who authorize a waiver of fees.

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