Aug. 26, 2004 – If you're among those who owe the V.I. government back property taxes, the Finance Department will cut you a break on interest and penalty charges if you pay up by Sept. 30.
Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull said the government will let you get by with paying 50 percent of what you owe in interest and penalties. If you don't pay up by Sept. 30, you'll still owe the full amount. In either event, you still must pay the full amount of the actual taxes.
"I was inundated by requests for this," Turnbull said.
She said interest is 1.5 percent per month, which adds up to 18 percent a year, and the late-payment penalty is $5 a year.
Turnbull said the reduction will help taxpayers who are making efforts to bring their property tax payments up to date, and it also will help the government's coffers.
She did not have the total amount owed in delinquent property taxes but said that around 7,000 property owners are in arrears.
Turnbull also said that some of the names appearing on a delinquent taxpayer list published by local media, including the Source, were there in error. "We're finding we're about 80 percent correct," she said.
She said some of the cases date back to the late 1980s.
Turnbull said that many people got into arrears because they believed another property tax amnesty waiving all interest and penalties was right around the corner and they were waiting to take advantage of it. "No more amnesties," she said.
One St. John homeowner whose name appeared on a published list of delinquent taxpayers said she had the receipt to prove she was paid up. "Nobody ever sent me a letter"alleging that she owed taxes, she said, and inclusion on the list embarrassed her.
She said the Finance Department should now publish a list of all those whose names appeared on the list in error.
The woman, who did not want her name used, said she was told when she went to the Finance Department that if the staff found any taxpayer files with missing paperwork, the names automatically went onto the list of alleged delinquent taxpayers.
The homeowner's advice for all property taxpayers: "Save your receipts."
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