NILES Plan to drop tax penalties

Amnesty and a collection agency are part of the city treasurer's proposal.
NILES -- Treasurer Richard Bullock is proposing a plan to collect delinquent income taxes that may include an amnesty program.
Bullock announced his proposal to lawmakers Wednesday during a city council finance committee meeting.
Bullock stressed it's unfair to those who pay the 1.5-percent city income tax and receive city services and are forced to support those who don't pay taxes but use the services. He added that it's the law to pay taxes.
State auditor Jim Petro was critical of the city in the 2000 audit because nearly 40 percent of those who owed the tax weren't paying.
That percentage has decreased, Bullock asserted, but he isn't sure how much.
Bullock, who took office in January, said data is being logged into the city computer in an attempt to determine those who have filed returns but remain delinquent.
The city will also work with the Ohio Department of Taxation to locate those who have filed state income tax returns but not city returns.
Here's the idea
Bullock proposed an amnesty program so those who are in arrears can pay without penalty.
For those who don't take advantage of the amnesty, the treasurer said, the city will take to court those who have filed but remain delinquent for three years, and those who have never filed and have been delinquent for six years.
Some delinquencies will be turned over to a collection agency.
Dean Pokrandt, general manager of Trumbull Credit & amp; Adjustment Bureau, a Warren collection agency, told councilmen his company will be able to collect 15 percent to 18 percent of the delinquent accounts.
"We'll certainly work hard to do everything we can," Pokrandt told lawmakers.
The agency collects delinquent city utility accounts.
Mayor Ralph A. Infante explained it's easier to collect utility bills because shutting off the utility usually resolves the problem.
It's more difficult to collect from those who have moved out of the city, the mayor added.
Pokrandt said about 8 percent of the cases turned over to his agency are taken to court, and that's only with the approval of the city because of the expense.
"We don't sue very often," he said.
Councilman Robert L. Marino, D-at large, finance committee chairman, asked that the amnesty program and hiring of TCAB be put into the same ordinance for council's consideration in June.

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