Counties ramp up efforts to collect back taxes

FRONT ROYAL – The top 10 delinquent taxpayers in Warren County owe more than a half-million dollars in back taxes.

The county continues to pursue real estate owners in arrears on their taxes, with help. Last year the county bolstered its efforts by hiring two firms that work with the Treasurer’s Office and go after delinquent taxpayers, in some cases through property auctions or the courts. The move to hire the firms came after Assistant County Attorney Dan Whitten, in charge of pursuing delinquent taxpayers, took over the department last year.

In its push to persuade property owners to pay their taxes, the county recently published the delinquent real estate tax accounts and a separate list of the top 10 offenders.

The top 10 delinquent tax accounts are:
• Frank H. Barnett Jr. owes $98,120 for four parcels.
• Jin Pyo and Auk J. Hong owe $90,226 for 16 parcels.
• Dawgwood Inc. owes $60,544 on 24 parcels.
• Kathy Cook owes $56,807 on four parcels.
• Senary LLC owes $48,196 on four parcels.
• Jeschke and Baker LLC owes $47,712 on one parcel.
• Stout Family LLC owes $47,495 on four parcels.
• Harry Johnson owes $28,742 on one parcel.
• Walt Moyer owes $27,938 on five parcels.
• Arthur R. Behnke owes $27,894 on one parcel.

The two companies contracted by Warren County continue to chip away at the growing list of delinquent taxes. The monthly report for March showed that the firms collected $39,950 – $20,724 by Pond Law Group and $19,226 by TACS.

County officials also advised property owners that new local regulations go into effect July 1 that pertain to delinquent accounts. A county ordinance requires that a person seeking to apply for a building permit must pay all delinquent taxes owed for the subject property.

The county plans to hold a special commissioner’s sale for delinquent properties outside the courthouse May 11. Properties for sale include a 3.6-acre parcel of vacant land, a 1-acre lot and seven lots in the Sunset Village subdivision. None of the owners are on the list of top 10 delinquent accounts.

By comparison, the top 10 delinquent taxpayers in Shenandoah County owe $123,087 in back taxes. The Shenandoah County Treasurer’s list by each parcel and its owner is as follows:
• Community Christian School of Shenandoah Valley Inc. owes $17,915 from 2012-2013.
• William or Angelica Sabates owe $15,039 from 2014-2016.
• Conley Compton Jr. et al owe $12,431 from 2014-2016.
• William or Angelica Sabates owe $12,295 from 2014-2016.
• The Marion Spinner estate care of Helen Davis owes $12,039 from 1997-2016.
• William or Angelia Sabates owe $11,984 from 2014-2016.
• The William Smith estate owes $11,421 from 1997-2016.
• Sara T. Davis owes $10,172 from 2009-2016.
• Paul B. Brice et al owe $9,959 from 1997-2016.
• The Marion Spinner estate owes $9,833 from 1997-2016.

Shenandoah County Treasurer Cindy George noted that the amount due does not include penalties, interest or fees. The list does not include delinquent sanitary district taxes. Any tract in arrears for 2013 and prior is in the delinquent tax sale process, George said.

The Shenandoah County treasurer is required to collect 20 years worth of real estate taxes. As George pointed out, the amount of taxes owed to the county decreases sharply because the office uses a “bill-in-equity” process that allows the treasurer to hold a tax sale after a property has fallen three years delinquent. Shenandoah County has 493 parcels in the sale process, George said. Additionally, George pointed out that her office collected 99.11 percent of the taxes owed to the county in 2014; 98.73 percent for 2015 and 97.83 percent for 2016. As of Monday, property owners owed Shenandoah County roughly $1.54 million in delinquent taxes dating back to 1997.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com