Tallmadge expects to collect about $250,000 in past-due income tax

City officials say RITA program is a success

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Updated April 9, 2014, 5:03 p.m.

Tallmadge -- Preliminary results from the city's extended income tax collection program through the Regional Income Tax Agency indicate the program is a success.

According to Finance Director Steve Shanafelt, Tallmadge expects to collect roughly $250,000 once all the delinquent tax payments have been received. The final results of the program should be available in about a month.

Last fall, about 2,800 letters were mailed to residents and employees of businesses in Tallmadge that RITA thought might be delinquent because they didn't file tax returns for 2010, 2011 and/or 2012. Of those who were mailed letters, about 1,300 contacted RITA to settle their accounts, update their information or provide proof they don't owe the taxes.

From the respondents determined to be delinquent, RITA has collected more than $107,000 of taxes to date and expects to collect another $135,000 over the next couple of years from those who have set up payment plans, Shanafelt said.

RITA then sent about 1,500 administrative subpoenas requesting immediate contact to those who didn't respond to the delinquent letters. Shanafelt said a decision on how the city will handle those who don't comply with the subpoenas will be made in the future.

More than 100 people attended RITA's in-person tax collection event at City Hall that took place over three mornings last December. More residents and employees might have mailed in payments or given them to RITA over the phone, he said.

Shanafelt said he thinks the extended tax collection program was worth the city's participation.

"For at least two reasons: to get [RITA's] information updated, which is always a good thing, then of course to be able to collect some of the outstanding monies that were due," he said.

The results so far, he added, have exceeded his expectations.

The city doesn't plan on participating in the program every year but only when needed, he said.

He said the city will pay about $12,000 to participate in the program.

Shanafelt said one reason people gave as to why they didn't pay the taxes was that their employers didn't take it out of their pay, and they didn't realize they owed the money.

Those who were determined to be exempt from paying the taxes included those who are deceased, filed jointly with a spouse, moved from the city or had retired from employment before the tax years. Others are Tallmadge residents who worked in another municipality, lived and worked in Tallmadge and either permanently or temporarily moved, or weren't working at all.

Mayor Dave Kline said he was "shocked" to learn that many people were past-due on the taxes, and he, too, is pleased with the results.

"I think a lot of people just didn't realize they had to file, so I don't think a lot of it was maliciously not trying to file and that we went out and caught people," he said. "I think it's just a clearer understanding of the income tax process here in Tallmadge."

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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