Bill would provide relief for late property taxpayers

From the desk of Columbian intern Lucas Wiseman:

Paying late taxes may become more convenient for some thanks to a bill proposed by state Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver.

This bill, which was heard in the House Finance Committee, would allow individuals who are behind on their property taxes to make monthly, electronic payments on the amount they owe. Under current law, taxpayers are not allowed to make partial payments on property taxes.

Clark County offers a free, electronic way for its residents to pay property taxes, but the taxes must be paid in full, not in part.

Under House Bill 1004, the payments must first address the interest accrued on the late payment, which is 12 percent a year. Counties could choose whether they wanted to use the new program.

The bill passed out of committee Tuesday and awaits a vote on the House floor.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, voiced concerns that the bill might be adding another fee to taxpayers who are behind on their taxes.

“When somebody’s delinquent on their taxes, they owe taxes, interest, and the penalty,” he said.

Orcutt, a member of the House Finance Committee, said the only way that people behind on taxes can make partial payments is electronically, and that counties will charge for the cost of that electronic collection.

“Now you have four things to pay when you couldn’t pay one originally,” Orcutt said. His proposed an amendment to address those concerns, but it was struck down by the committee, which has a Democratic majority.

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