Telegram - Serving Metropolitan Detroit Since 1944

By Renee Summers
Telegram Reporter 

Wayne County Treasurer's Department Wants to Work With Struggling Taxpayers

 

Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree and his Communications Director Amikka Smith work hard to keep residents informed of their tax payer status

The Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree's Office wants Wayne County residents to be aware of numerous assistance programs available to taxpayers who were struggling to get property taxes paid on time.

Sabree says his office becomes involved only when a homeowner becomes delinquent on their taxes, and the office is doing the best it can to help people get the taxes paid. This is ideal, Sabree says, because it keeps properties on the tax rolls and people in their homes. To keep delinquent taxpayers aware of the status of their taxes, the treasurer's office sends numerous notices through the mail. In addition, Sabree says his office sent 12,000 text messages last month to taxpayers who are enrolled in a payment plan, reminding them to keep up with the payments. Efforts to assist taxpayers included working with local community organizations to knock on the doors of residents who are either delinquent on their taxes or in danger of becoming so.

Sabree says in all of Wayne County, 90 percent of all tax foreclosures are properties in Detroit. Other communities struggling to meet the county tax bill include Inkster, Highland Park, River Rouge, and Ecorse. "Our goal is zero foreclosures on owner-occupied properties in Wayne County," says Amikka Smith, Communications Director for the Wayne County Treasurer's Office. "That's why we're out in the community doing the door-knocking."

Despite the ominous statistics, Sabree says that over 82 percent of Detroit residents pay their property taxes on time. "There is a certain segment of Detroit that's in real trouble, struggling every bit of the way to pay utility bills, taxes, and food, and other things," he adds.

For those who are struggling to pay their taxes, the county's website lists various options for assistance with getting the bill under control. Some residents may even be exempt from having to pay property taxes and not know it. Information about tax exemption status and requirements are available on the county's website. Payment agreement plans and information on assistance for veterans can also be found on the county's website as well. "If you only owe $700 or $800, we don't want to foreclose on your property, it doesn't make sense," says Sabree. "But you've got to do something." Sabree adds that more than 30,000 taxpayer are currently on some sort of payment plan.

Wayne County resident Danyale Williams says the programs the county is offering taxpayers has helped him pay his taxes "...by assisting me to the proper programs and the proper steps," he says. "They also gave me an adjustment on my taxes, where I could reenter the IRSPA program as well today." IRSPA is the county's Interest Reduction Stipulated Payment Agreement.

Since 2016, the county has implemented payment kiosks throughout the county to help residents make their payments on a more regular basis, in addition to paying by mail or online. The kiosks save taxpayers the hassle of having to come downtown to the treasurer's office. Sabree says, "That's the goal, to make it easier for people to pay." To find a kiosk near you go to http://www.DivDatKioskNetwork.com.

Efforts to assist Wayne County taxpayers appear to be working. Sabree says in 2015, 24 percent of all forfeited properties were foreclosed; in 2018, that number fell to 6 percent.

For more details on payment assistance programs, payment options, and exemption status, see the Wayne County Treasurer's website at http://www.treasurer.waynecounty.com or call 313-224-5990.

 

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