Category Archives: tax liens
>Accelerated Tax Sale Scheduled for December 28th: approximately 1300 residences and businesses to be included
>According to a notice posted on a bulletin board outside the Middletown Clerks Office the date for the Township’s accelerated tax sale has been set for Tuesday December 28th and will take place at 10:00 am in the Courtroom of the Municipal building.
>During the August 2, 2010 Middletown Township workshop meeting Resolution 10-203 was passed unanimously by the Township committee with little fanfare or discussion. At the time it didn’t raise any concerns or eyebrows of those in attendance, now however, some 3+ months later that isn’t the case.
Resolution 10-203 authorized the Township to conduct an accelerated tax sale by the end of the year. The resolution (shown below) is vague in its detail and it’s no wonder that it didn’t cause people to question its motive until Monday November 29, 2010 when residents attempted to pay their tax bills before the end of the month:
RESOLUTION 10-203 AUTHORIZING AN ACCELERATED TAX SALE
WHEREAS, NJSA 54:5-19 permits a municipality to sell liens on delinquent
municipal charges prior to the close of the Calendar Year 2010, and
WHEREAS, the Township of Middletown has realized an exceptional tax
collection rate through this process, and
WHEREAS, the Township of Middletown CY 2010 Budget has anticipated
continuing an Accelerated Tax Sale;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Tax Collector of the
Township of Middletown is hereby authorized to conduct an Accelerated Tax Sale for the Calendar Year 2010.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Township Clerk is directed to file two
certified copies of this resolution with the Director of Local Government Services.
Nowhere does it state that after November 10th 2010 residents would not be able to use personal checks, credit or debit cards to pay their property taxes. And nowhere does it state that after this date only cash or certified cashier checks would be accepted as payment. The Township’s website does state however, how to pay your taxes using a credit card
It does not state when the tax sale is to take place or what criteria is to be used in determining who’s residences or businesses would be subjected to a tax lien and place up for sale for not paying their property taxes on time.
As a matter of fact, there is no specific location on the Township’s website that addresses any of these issues, only a vague a reference that states “any appropriate municipal charges remaining unpaid after November 11th of the tax year will be subject to tax sale.” under the Tax Payment Information tab located within the Tax Collector section of the website.
Who made up these new guidelines? Who and when were they approved? And why were they not openly made public knowledge?
There has been no announcement placed in the Township’s newsletter “Middletown Matters”, no reverse 911 phone calls made or any postings on the Township municipal access cable channels. Why is that? Other less important announcements have been made using these methods over the past few months, why not this time?
As I stated before, I can’t imagine Middletown would be so hard up for tax revenues that the Township would rather place a resident’s home in a tax sale for being slightly more than 10 days late in a tax payment, than accept a credit card as payment in lieu of cash. It is paramount to extortion, either you pay your taxes on time or you will have to pay us in cash. If not, a lien will be placed on your house and put it will be put up for sale.
Someone really needs to address this before people’s lives are thrown into chaos over this.
>Does anyone have an extra $1500 cash or more lying around the house; if you do can you lend it to a neighbor? According to Middletown resident Dora Crisafulli, she was turned away from the Middletown Tax office yesterday (November 29, 2010) when she showed up to pay her property taxes. As it turned out she wasn’t the only one turned away, others who showed up Monday were also turned away.
Mrs. Crisafulli stated that when she arrived at the Middletown tax office Monday morning, there were several people in front of her, all waiting to pay their tax bills before the end of the month. Each resident was told that their payments were late and that their tax bill should have been paid by November 10th (since payments dates were adjusted a few months back to reflect the new bill payment schedule that require taxes due on the 1st of the month), each were told that only cash or certified cashier checks would be accepted as payment. No personal checks, credit or debit cards would be taken. According to Crisafulli, it seemed that a near riot would ensue as people were being turned away.
One elderly woman left the tax office in near tears when she couldn’t pay half of her tax bill by personal check with the remaining balance placed on a credit card. Others in line became angry and agitated at the situation, no one could understand the reasoning behind the sudden change in payment methods and they questioned who had that kind of money lying around?
When it was Crisafulli’s turn at the window she demanded to speak to the office supervisor (Crisafulli couldn’t remember her name) when she was not allowed to use her debit card to pay her taxes and found out that a late charge of nearly $60 was being added to her bill. She was told by the clerk that the supervisor was currently busy but could speak to her shortly. Mrs. Crisafulli let the clerk know that she expected to talk to the supervisor after she returned from the bank with cash.
Upon her return from the bank, Mrs. Crisafulli asked to speak to the office supervisor before paying her tax bill. When the supervisor came out to speak with Mrs. Crisafulli, she was probably sorry that she had, Crisafulli gave her an earful.
Crisafulli stated to me that she had asked why she and others had to pay by cash or by certified cashier’s check (which would have been subjected to an additional $15 bank service fee) when previous to this date other forms of payment were acceptable? She also questioned why she was charged and added misc. interest charge of $51.54 over the normal late interest fee of $8.04, which she had been paying since the Township change its payment cycle a few months earlier (Crisafulli stated that she was on a fixed income and doesn’t always have money available on the first of the month). Previously to the change, she had never been late with a tax payment and she would have paid her tax bill on Friday but the office was closed the day after Thanksgiving.
The woman that Mrs. Crisafulli spoke to informed her that the reason for the changes to the payment policy, was due to the upcoming Tax Lien sale that was being scheduled for late December (Crisafulli stated 12/28 but more than likely in January).
Anyone late in their tax payments, were being required to pay by either cash or certified check and the additional interest charge was for the purpose of processing the paper work for the upcoming tax sale and to place notices in the area newspapers.
After hearing this Mrs. Crisafulli was shaken and upset, she wanted to know how in the world Middletown could place a lien on her house and put it up for sale without her notice or her being delinquent in her tax payments; she never was and had ever been habitually late paying her taxes. She was mortified that her name would appear in the newspapers and that her neighbors would think that she was a tax cheat.
Only after the supervisor stated that she would check on Mrs. Crisafulli’s status, to see if her house was going to be included in the sale and notices, did Crisafulli make her cash payment and request a receipt.
Two hours later the phone rang in the Crisafulli’s house and the voice at the other end of the phone notified Mrs. Crisafulli that she was safe; her house wasn’t being subjected to the tax sale and no notice would be placed in the local newspapers.
Needless to say she was relieved to hear the news, but what about the others, who have been turned away over these last couple of days, have they been told of the upcoming tax sale and whether or not their homes would be included?
This is disturbing; I can’t imagine that Middletown would be so hard up for tax revenues that it would refuse to take late tax payments from residents unless those payments were made with cash. It is paramount to extortion, either you pay us in cash or we will but a lien on your house and then put it up for sale. How can this be possible, is this just a simple case of misunderstanding or is there something more to it? I have never heard of such a thing happening unless a property owner’s taxes were considered habitually past due. I also don’t understand why residents can’t pay with a credit card, the service fees that the banks charge the township are being passed onto the taxpayers, and the Township no longer absorbs those transaction fees. It just makes no sense.
Someone needs to question this before unknowing residents are hit with tax liens against their properties and find themselves in a court fight to keep their homes or businesses.
I placed a phone call to Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes last night to ask if he had known what was happing at the tax office. He stated that he did not but would contact Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, to inquire about it and get back to me.