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Spokane State Reps Propose To Eliminate Delinquent Property Tax Penalties

Washington state House Republicans

A group of Spokane state legislators proposes to eliminate penalties on people who are delinquent in paying their property taxes. The bill received a hearing in the state House on Tuesday.

The current law allows counties to charge property owners 12% interest on overdue taxes. And then, if they miss their twice-yearly payments, they’re subject to penalties of up to 11% on top of that.

“Over the years I’ve heard some of the people subject to this excessive interest rate to be slackers or trying to game the system. My experience indicates otherwise," said Rep. Mike Volz (R-Spokane), the bill’s prime sponsor. He works in the Spokane County Treasurer’s office. During a hearing in the House State Government Committee, he told the stories of several people who lost their homes after falling behind on their taxes.

“I think this excessive rate is overly burdensome on low-income people, fixed income people, seniors. We talk to them day-after-day, year-after-year, and I do believe it is time that we change this policy," he said.

“This is too expensive for the counties," said Mellani McAleenan from the Washington Association of Counties. "We don’t need this bill because we addressed these issues this year and this bill does let bad actors off the hook.”

She says the legislature approved a bill last year to give relief to some delinquent taxpayers. And, despite the penalties, she says a few companies decide to withhold their tax payments until they absolutely have to pay.

Volz and three other Spokane lawmakers, Republican Jenny Graham and Democrats Marcus Riccelli and Timm Ormsby, are the leading sponsors.