Late taxes spark turf war between state, counties
Posted at: 10/04/2012 5:35 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
State and local tax collectors are squabbling over who gets to take the money from New Mexico property owners who get way behind in their payments.
The state Taxation and Revenue Department wants to sign up delinquent taxpayers and get them on an installment plan. At the same time it wants counties to quit collecting partial payments from those taxpayers.
There are about 2,700 taxpayers who have been delinquent since 2009 in Bernalillo County.
"I think what it's gonna do is it's gonna have the state of New Mexico auctioning off more of the low income and elderly people's homes," said Bernalillo County Treasurer Patrick Padilla. "I think it's a travesty."
But Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla (no relation) says otherwise.
"The travesty is really that Mr. Padilla doesn't understand that what we have asked him to do is to not give property owners a false sense of security," she said.
She said partial payments to county treasurers will not automatically keep a property off the auction block.
State law says if you are a property tax delinquent you need to set up an installment plan with the Taxation and revenue Department, not the county where the property is.
But until recently that law has not been strictly enforced.
"I can't answer who's being helped, but I can sure tell you who's being hurt is the taxpayers of all 33 counties in the state of New Mexico," Patrick Padilla said.
Demesia Padilla says the state has no desire to auction off people's homes, just to collect those back taxes in an organized, centralized fashion.
"Give us a call," Padilla urges delinquent taxpayers. "Let us know that you want to work with us and we will definitely work with you. Like working with the IRS. We understand that times are tough. We want to help."
This is essentially a turf war and the state is the big dog in the fight, particularly since state law backs up what the Taxation and Revenue Department is doing.
So, if you're delinquent on your property taxes, and you want to avoid the auction block, talk to the state, not your county treasurer.