County Cancels Over $2,000 in Delinquent Taxes

By Beacon Staff

The Flathead County Commission voted to cancel over $2,000 in delinquent personal property taxes on Wednesday, while the county finance department still lists over $350,000 in such delinquent funds being pursued for recovery.

Delinquent personal property taxes are up for cancellation if they have been unpaid for five years, according to state law. Flathead County tax supervisor Sue Waggener said the commission only cancels delinquent taxes that are no longer being pursued for collection.

At the July 25 meeting, the commission unanimously voted to cancel $2,519 of the $6,787 in personal property taxes scheduled for cancelation. Six pieces of property were on the list given to the commission, and only two were fully canceled.

In the first case, no buyers came forward to purchase the property – with $1,186 in overdue taxes – at a sheriff’s sale. The second case involved $1,127 in overdue taxes for a mobile home, which cannot be located.

The commission partially canceled the delinquent taxes on another piece of property, writing off the oldest year of taxes due, worth $204, out of the $1,132 owed because the owner was taking it to the landfill. Waggener said the owner needs permits to move and dispose of it, and those permits will not be issued until the remaining back taxes are paid.

According to state law, a county board of commissioners can cancel overdue taxes on personal property that are not a lien on real estate and have been delinquent for five years.

Once the taxes are delinquent for 30 days, the county treasurer sends the owner a courtesy notice that in another 30 days, the sheriff’s office will be involved and sent to collect.

Delinquent real estate taxes have a different set of rules, Waggener added, including that they have a three-year time limit for overdue money and they are not canceled but have liens placed on them instead.

The Flathead County commissioners cancel delinquent personal property taxes once a year, Waggener said, and this year showed a smaller number than previous years.

The amount typically depends on how well the sheriff’s office handles the situations, Waggener said.

“It sort of depends on how aggressive the sheriff’s office is,” she said. “They’ve been very good in the past few years.”

The list of delinquent personal property taxes is available for download on the Flathead County website. As of July 25, it was 440 pages long, and totaled $359,160.38.

The $2,519 the commission canceled on Wednesday is money that would otherwise go to the county budget, Waggener said.