MALONE –– Franklin County legislators are preparing to extend the waiver of penalties and interest for property owners who have yet to pay their 2020 town and county taxes.

The Legislature voted in early April to waive the 1% per month interest it charges on any tax bills paid after April 1 for April and May and to postpone the 5% penalty levied on late tax payments until June 1.

The waiver applies to county and town taxes, which are turned over to the county for collection after April 1. It does not affect the amount of taxes which must be paid.

Legislators Thursday agreed informally to extend the interest and penalty waiver because of the success it has had in helping people pay their overdue tax bills. A formal vote won’t be taken until the next regular legislative session, to be held on June 4.

Legislators said they would make the extended waiver retroactive to June 1, and County Treasurer Fran Perry said her office would not impose the added charges on any payments that come in between the expiration date and passage of the extension.

Perry said the waiver has not only helped taxpayers; it has provided a revenue stream for the county at a time when other sources of money have largely dried up.

“Property tax money is coming to the county on a regular basis,” she said.

Perry did not have exact figures for the amount the county has received through the amnesty, but noted that a companion amnesty –– which waived the interest charges on all outstanding property taxes –– had already induced 20 property owners to catch up on their outstanding bills, with another 50 who have worked with the county and have now just to make their payments.

The second amnesty is set to expire June 22, but legislators agreed to hold off on deciding whether to extend that program until June 18 in order to assess the area’s economic situation at that time.

June 22 also marks the last day property owners can pay back-due property taxes without losing their STAR exemptions, Perry noted. The 2020-21 state budget included a provision that removes taxpayers from the Basic STAR exemption/Basic STAR credit program if they owe delinquent property taxes.

Legislators did not decide on the duration of the forthcoming extension on Thursday. Perry suggested that lawmakers move forward only one month at a time because of the state’s continually changing financial situation.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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