Sunday, Apr 14th

What Caused Lapses in School Tax Billing in Scarsdale?

questionmarkFrustrated residents are looking for an explanation of why they failed to receive their school tax bills or email notifications last September and are now being assessed stiff penalties for late payments.

The treasurer reported that 216 residents missed the first of their two-part school tax payments in September, along with the second payment due by January 31, 2024. Since penalties, which are set by the county at 2% - 12%, accrue as payments get later, many of these residents are now paying steep fees. Though there is no hard proof, many residents are saying they never received their bill in the mail or an email notification of taxes due from the Village.

Another 284 residents missed the second of their two part payments and are also paying penalties.

Aggrieved residents are asking:

What error led to the omission of the mailed bill? Was it caused by the printer or the post office? Or were their records simply not selected when the tax bills were printed?

Why did those who signed up to pay online fail to receive an email in September alerting them to the payment due date?

As Scarsdale usually has a very high payment rate, why didn’t the Village Treasurer notice that payment rates were flagging and look into the issue in October or November before significant penalties accrued?

Who should be held accountable?

It is ironic that the option to pay school and village taxes in two parts is the cause of so much consternation when the system was put into place to ease the tax burden on locals. But rather than decrease the tax load for some, communications issues and misunderstandings about the two-part process has resulted in high tax penalties.

Bob Berg explained that the system was implemented in 2020 and at the time many people missed their second payments and got hit with onerous late fees. He said, “I slammed the Village for not reminding residents and doing a better job communicating. The Treasurer’s office promised to do better. And now look what happened. That’s not fair to residents – even though under state law residents have the responsibility to pay on time even if they don’t get billed.”

He added, “I'm especially ticked off about this screw-up in the Village Treasurer's Office because I consider my success in getting both the School Board and the Village Board to implement two-part billing for the School and Village property taxes to be one of my biggest civic accomplishments. And now, that's turned into a financial debacle for a couple hundred property owners who, even though they have the legal responsibility to pay their property taxes on time, relied to their detriment on the Treasurer's office to send tax bills and e-reminders in plenty of time to avoid the onerous late penalties.”

He did note that it’s highly unlikely that residents will receive refunds of their penalties, because this can only be achieved by special legislation in the NYS State Assembly and NYS Senate. Berg advised those who paid the penalties to write to State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and State Senator Shelley Mayer to see if they could find a remedy.

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