Individuals within the office are assigned to this special unit of the Tax Division that encompasses a multitude of efforts to collect delinquent taxes owed to the Sheriff, including bad checks and warrants, the annual Tax Lien Sale and redemptions, hotel/motel tax compliance, and bankruptcy. In the past, this unit had a defined Supervisor, but in order to ensure a consistent and concerted effort, the Chief Tax Deputy now directly oversees the function of collection enforcement.
Custom designed databases are utilized to process and track enforcement efforts. Over the past eight (8) years there has been a marked increase in the collection of delinquent accounts. In addition, proactive measures like targeted mailings and specialized advertising have made a significant impact in the collection of current year taxes, which directly improves the compliance percentage. Approximately 92% of all current year taxes are collected in the first 10 months of collection. After the second year of collection it stabilizes at around 96-98%. The collection enforcement unit is tasked with making every effort to collect the remaining 2%, or make a determination that the taxes are simply uncollectible.
Every year, in November, the Sheriff conducts the annual ritual of auctioning any delinquent real estate tax liens. This function is established under the auspices of state law. The Sheriff proffers approximately 2,100 liens each year; the total population of tickets at the beginning of the year is around 100,000. The sale generally produces income of $2.5-$3.0 million dollars in total tax collections. The practice of selling tax liens is highly contested at times, and it creates much tension between the taxpayer and this office. However, it is a necessary part of the collection process to ensure that everyone who is responsible to pay complies with the law.
Other responsibilities include processing checks returned for non-sufficient funds. After the initial attempt to retrieve funds, the assistance of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is solicited to secure payment or file suit in Circuit Court to obtain payment. The percentage of bad checks written to the Sheriff is small in comparison to the overall collection, but there are still over $100,000 a year in bad checks processed.
Lastly, the Tax Office is charged with processing bankruptcy claims for taxes and compliance of the County’s Hotel/Motel Tax Ordinance. An individual within the office periodically checks filings in bankruptcy court, and makes a claim when it is applicable. The Chief Tax Deputy, with the assistance of an independent auditor, will also make periodic reviews of compliance with the Hotel/Motel Tax Ordinance. In addition, the Collection Enforcement unit reviews the monthly remittances to ensure that all applicable hotels/motels submit their required payment.