Wilton officials launched an investigation last week after several taxpayers reported receiving delinquency notices from the town’s tax collector even though those residents insisted they had paid their July 1, 2021 tax bill on time.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice sent an email update to residents Tuesday evening saying that investigation has turned up several checks that have not been processed and posted by the town’s lockbox bank that processes the tax payments.
Vanderslice told the Board of Selectmen members later Tuesday evening that the bank has “found some errors on their part.” Not only that but other municipalities using the same bank have experienced similar errors.
“They do a lot of business in Connecticut and had been highly reputable. So we don’t have a clear understanding of why this happened this year, but right now our focus is let’s find all of the issues so that we can cure them, and then we’ll be having the discussion of what happened,” she said.
Property taxes are due twice a year, on July 1 and Jan. 1 annually. Taxpayers have a 30-day grace period before incurring interest at a rate of 18% per year. For the July 1 payment, the last day to postmark a payment sent by mail is Aug. 2.
Many residents impacted by the errors received delinquency notices from the town informing them they were being penalized either for paying their taxes after the due date or not paying taxes at all, and that they
would have to pay late fees and interest.
Some residents worried that their tax payment checks had been lost and stopped payment on them, incurring fees. Vanderslice told the BOS that the town would work to rectify any errors and make refunds accordingly.
“The bottom line is, if this is an error by the bank, or anybody’s error, that these payments were not posted at the time of receipt and they were received on a timely basis, then we will be making those residents whole. Whether that’s interest or there’s a $2 fee if you’re delinquent that [the Division of] Motor Vehicles charges you [on car property tax], and there are stop payment fees and a couple of other things that residents might’ve paid,” she said, adding, “But we’ll be making everyone whole.”
Vanderslice said the town’s focus is on determining all of the residents that this error impacts. While the bank has been unable to say when it will complete its audit, town officials are hoping to gather information and identify any unrecorded payments faster from the residents involved.
The Town has set up a survey on the Town’s website for taxpayers to directly provide information about payments they have submitted which have not yet been posted.
Vanderslice said sorting out all the errors will be time-intensive for town employees, and she has redirected staff from other departments to assist the tax collector’s team with tracing.
She estimates the issue may have impacted less than 10% of Wilton’s taxpayers but it will still take time to sort out.
“But it’s even if it’s 150 taxpayers, they might have real estate taxes and they might have automobile taxes, and they might, maybe they have two cars,” she explained.
She also asked residents to be patient as town employees work through this situation.
“We all understand how frustrating and concerning this situation has been for impacted taxpayers. We share your frustration and concern and hope this update and the future updates are helpful,” she wrote in her message to residents.