County considers seizing tax refunds for unpaid property taxes

A proposal that would allow Bartholomew County to collect on past-due property taxes by seizing state tax refunds is being considered.

County Treasurer Pia O’Connor brought up the proposal during Monday morning’s meeting of the county commissioners.

O’Connor explains that the program allows local governments to collect delinquent debts from an individual’s state income tax refund. She adds that there would be no cost to the county, beyond those associated with notifying those who are eligible to have their refunds seized. O’Connor says the program will help the county’s finances, while ensuring that taxpayers are paying their fair share. She noted that a pilot program in Marion County revealed over one-million dollars in old debts eligible for collection.

Commissioners expressed concerns about the program. Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz says that the process seems “too intrusive.” He added that while he agrees that people should be responsible for their debts, there is already a system in place to deal with delinquent taxpayers.

Commisisoner Rick Flohr expressed similar concerns, saying that the program “doesn’t feel right.”

O’Connor went on to say that there are some taxpayer protections built into the program. She says that debtors have two notification periods, as well as a way to contest any seizure.

Commissioners tabled the proposal and said they would discuss it further at next week’s meeting.