Long County is owed more than $400,000 in back taxes, according to Tax Commissioner Becky Fowler. She recently asked the Long County Commission to support her enforcement of penalties on delinquent tax bills.
After the commission’s recent meeting, Fowler said she has attempted to collect the past-due tax bills to the best of her ability, but they still have not been paid. As a result, she wants to schedule an auction in early 2013 during which delinquent tax properties will go up for bidding.
“I want everyone to know — whether you are an individual, a business, a developer or whoever — when the first of the year rolls around, if you have a delinquent tax bill, your property can be auctioned off to collect these taxes,” Fowler said.
According to the tax commissioner, if a piece of property is auctioned off, the person who bids on the property pays the past-due tax bill. If after one year, the person who owns the property does not repay the person who bid on the property the amount of the tax bill plus an additional 20 percent, then the person who paid the tax bill assumes ownership of the property.
Commissioner Cliff DeLoach said he supports Fowler, but wants to ensure the process is carried out fairly.
“That is what we need to do. Business is business. If someone owes back taxes, I don’t care who it is, they need to pay that bill or their property ought to be on the courthouse square,” DeLoach said.
Fowler also said that she wanted to clarify information recently printed in the Long County newspaper that indicated tax bills don’t have to be paid after a period of seven years. It is not true that tax bills are forgiven after any length of time, she said. They must be paid.