By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The city of Laconia and nearby towns report a decline in the amount of property placed under tax liens for delinquency.
Execution of liens, the legal process that can lead to municipalities acquiring properties with overdue property taxes and selling them at public sale, typically occurs in the spring.
Laconia Tax Collector Lindsey Allen reported that on Friday, April 21, she completed the city's tax lien for 2016. The liens totaled $762,446. Last year, the city put liens on a total of $871,459 in property, Allen reported.
The city of Laconia reports, "Property taxes are typically due in July and December. If the taxes are not paid by the following March, a lien is recorded on the property at the Register of Deeds. If the delinquent taxes (redemptions) are not paid within two years and one day of the tax lien date, the property is conveyed to the city by deed and subsequently sold at public sale by sealed bid."
In Sanbornton, the mid-April tally of properties in default and subject to liens reached $233,000, well above last year's level of $167,000 in properties with liens, Town Clerk Marla Davis reported. But Davis said that the mid-April total likely will drop by June 16, when she compiles the list of properties subject to liens. Before June 16, residents with late taxes will pay all or a portion of what is due to help bring the value of property in default down to a typical level, she predicted.
"I'll probably only go to lien for $167,000, which is normal for Sanbornton ... or less," she said.
"Each year, it's very close to the same amount since I've been in office," Davis said, describing the pattern of the past four years.
"I get a lot of payments after federal taxes have been filed, so between April and June when I go to lien, I get a lot of payments," Davis said.
The same group of property owners typically fall behind on their property taxes, she said.
"For the most part, you usually see the same properties coming up on lien year after year. It's usually the same individuals year after year," Davis said.
"Some people, for whatever reason, leave their properties in lien until the deadline time, when they have no choice, when the town is going to take their property, and then they pay it off," Davis said.
In Sanbornton, only one property with a lien has been taken by the town in the past decade, Davis estimated.
"And that was an estate matter, and they purchased the property right back," she said.
Franklin City Clerk/Tax Collector Katie Gargano said the tax lien for 2016 was $374,347. In 2015, the tax lien was $393,467, she said.
Last June, the Franklin City Council voted to accept tax deeds on properties that had been placed under liens. "City Manager Elizabeth Dragon explained that the majority of the properties that are taken at tax deed time are in less than desirable condition," reported minutes of a selectmen's meeting.
The town's practice, according to selectmen meeting minutes, "is to demolish them, clean them up, make them green space with restricted covenants and sell them to the abutting properties."
In Gilford, Town Clerk Denise Gonyer reported that last year's liens are pending. On May 8, she plans to compile the list.
"Gilford is typically between $400,000-$500,000 in tax liens each year," Gonyer reported. "The balance on the 2015 tax lien as of today's date is $200,764.16 (plus interest and costs), which shows 48 percent (almost half) of the tax lien has been paid in the past year."
Gilford has been trending toward fewer tax liens being placed "and the current tax bill being paid in a timely manner," Gonyer reported. "Typically the day after taxes are due we are collected in the low- to mid-ninety percentile range and mid- to high-ninety percentile range by the end of the year."
In 2012, the town of Gilford executed liens on 252 parcels valued at $564,879; in 2013, the town executed liens on 274 parcels valued at $497,657; in 2014, the town executed liens on 243 parcels valued at $442,643; and in 2015, the town executed liens on 213 parcels valued at $413,157, Gonyer reported.
For certain taxpayers who fall behind on their property tax payments, help is available. In March, in an opening address at the National Tax Lien Association's 20th Anniversary Conference, Executive Director Brad Westover announced the establishment of a nonprofit foundation to help preserve homeownership for elderly, disabled citizens or military veterans who owe back taxes but qualify for hardship assistance. More information is available at ntlafoundation.org or at ntla.org.
The New Hampshire Board of Tax Appeals also offers waivers and exceptions for some taxpayers in need. "The board has authority to decide appeals involving property tax exemptions, tax deferrals and tax credits," notes the board's website, https://www.nh.gov/btla/appeals/exemptions.htm.
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