HEADLINES

Tax Time! City Property Taxes Due Soon

Statements for real estate, motor vehicle, and business personal property taxes and sewer use charges were mailed to Norwalk residents beginning on December 14.

These bills are due January  1, 2017, and reflect the second installment of charges due on the grand list (assessment date) of October 1, 2015. Taxpayers will have until Wednesday, February 1, 2017 to pay these bills without interest penalty. 

The second installment of real estate and business personal property tax and sewer use bills greater than $100, and the full amount of supplemental motor vehicle tax bills,  for vehicles newly registered  (first time registration, not registration renewed)  between October 2, 2015 and July 31, 2016,  are currently due. First installment payments were due July 1, 2016. Bills for the 2016 grand list will become due in July 2017. The rates for those bills will be set in May, 2017.

Tax bills may be paid by mail; in person at City Hall; in person at one of 11 Norwalk bank branches; over the internet or telephone using a credit card, debit card, or ATM card; or over the internet using an “E Check” (ACH payment). 

The Norwalk Tax Collector's office at City Hall is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For faster service, taxpayers are asked to bring their tax bills with them, and to write their “list numbers,” shown on their payment coupons, on the back of their check. The office will be closed, along with all of City Hall, on Monday, January 2,  for the New Year’s holiday;  and on Monday, January 16, in observance of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Day.

Taxpayers who want to pay in person are encouraged to take advantage of a convenient and free service that allows any taxpayer to pay his or her property taxes in person at one of 11 participating Norwalk branch offices of numerous banks. Participating banks are:  TD Bank; Webster Bank; Patriot National Bank; Norwalk Bank and Trust; and Fairfield County Bank. This service is available during the collection period (through February 1 ) only. These banks accept “walk in” payments, and taxpayers do not need to maintain an account at the bank in order to pay there. Taxpayers will receive a receipt, and must bring both payment coupons with them. There is no charge for this service. Taxpayers must pay the exact amount currently due; the bank cannot accept partial payments.  Visit the tax collector’s home page on the city’s website to view a map showing the locations of the participating banks.  Taxpayers should not pay their taxes at out of town bank branch locations.

     Taxpayers may also pay by mail. In order to have a receipt returned, payment must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and both payment coupons. Make checks payable to Tax Collector, City of Norwalk, and mail to: Tax Collector, PO Box 5530, South Norwalk, CT  06856. Payments legibly postmarked through and including  February 1 are considered on time, regardless of when they are received by the Tax Collector’s Office. Payments postmarked  February  2 and later will be considered late, and will accrue interest at the rate of one and one half percent per month from the due date of January 1. For example, a taxpayer paying on  February 2 will pay 3% interest, representing two months, January and February. Taxpayers who choose to pay by mail close to the  February 1 deadline should ask the postmaster for a ‘receipt of mailing’ in order to verify the date of their postmark in case of a potential problem. 

Taxpayers may enjoy the convenience and flexibility of paying their taxes with their credit card, debit card, or ATM card, either in person at City Hall; over the telephone, or over the internet. Visit www.norwalkct.org and click the “On Line Payment” link, or navigate to the tax collector’s home page, or call 1-866-974-8090.  Taxpayers may pay current or delinquent taxes with their card. This service is available on line or over the telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the year. There will be a service fee of 2.5% charged for this service if you use a credit, debit or ATM card and pay on line or over the telephone. The fee will be disclosed up front, and taxpayers have several opportunities to “back out” of the transaction. Taxpayers should have their tax statements in front of them when using this service.   

Taxpayers also have the option of paying on line by electronic check, or “E Check,” for a flat fee of $1.50. This is a convenient and secure payment method that guarantees timely receipt by the Tax Collector’s Office. 

The City will also accept credit cards for payment of taxes at the Tax Collector’s office window at City Hall. As with on line or telephone payments, there will be an additional fee of 2.5% charged for using a credit card at the Tax Collector’s Office window. This fee will be paid to the service provider, Point and Pay. VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards are all accepted. ATM cards and debit cards are also accepted at the Tax Collector’s Office, but there is no additional fee.

Taxpayers who choose to use their own financial institution’s ‘electronic bill pay’ service should be aware that checks from their banks must be RECEIVED BY the last day to pay (February  1) or the taxpayer will be charged interest. This is so because these checks are not postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service. Normally the postmark controls, but if there is no postmark, timeliness depends solely upon the tax collector’s RECEIPT of the payment. If a taxpayer is using an ‘electronic bill pay’ service they should process their transaction before January 20, 2017, to ensure that the payment reaches the Tax Collector’s Office on time.

Taxpayers are responsible to see that their taxes are timely paid when due. FAILURE TO HAVE RECEIVED A TAX BILL IN THE MAIL DOES NOT EXEMPT THE TAXPAYER FROM THE TAX, OR FROM THE INTEREST CHARGES THAT ACCRUE. The Tax Collector's Office DOES NOT waive interest charges. There are absolutely no exceptions. Interest is charged on ALL late payments, regardless of the reason.

If personal property taxes remain unpaid, the Tax Collector will execute a levy against the taxpayer’s business property, goods and chattels, in accordance with state statute, and may file a Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.) lien with the Secretary of the State’s office. Also, the taxpayer will not be reissued a health permit by the Health Department until back taxes are paid.

If motor vehicle taxes remain unpaid, taxpayers  will be unable to renew any vehicle registrations with the State of  Connecticut Department  of Motor Vehicles, per Conn. Gen. Stat. 14-33, and will be unable to obtain a beach / transfer station sticker (resident pass) until the motor vehicle taxes are paid.  Past due motor vehicle taxes must be paid in full in cash, or by certified check, money order, credit card,   debit card or ATM card in order to receive clearance  for the DMV. If you pay with an ‘E Check’, you must provide proof your check  has cleared your bank before receiving clearance. There is also a fee of $5 per name, per year to receive a release / clearance for DMV. All outstanding vehicle taxes in the taxpayer’s name, including taxes currently due but not yet delinquent, must be paid in full in order for a release to be issued.

All DMV clearances are now processed electronically, online, overnight. Effective November 2015, the Connecticut DMV discontinued the use of the ‘paper’ vehicle clearance slip, and  the tax collector’s release stamp on vehicle registrations. The DMV no longer accepts either paper or stamped releases, and now processes clearances electronically, overnight.

Payments made in person today at the tax collector’s office window are cleared with the DMV overnight. You will be cleared to register with DMV on the following business day. If you pay online or over the telephone, you must allow at least one extra business  day for processing your online payment. If you make your payment on line or by telephone today, the City’s records will be updated with your payment information on the following business day. Then, the City will perform the overnight clearance process with the DMV, and you will be cleared with DMV the morning of the next business day after the City processes your payment. This means you will not be cleared to register with DMV until TWO BUSINESS DAYS AFTER you make payment through the online or telephone service. The best way to avoid problems with compliance at the DMV is to pay your motor vehicle taxes on time, before they are late. 

Anyone who is being improperly billed for a motor vehicle that was sold, destroyed, stolen, or removed from Connecticut should contact the Assessors Office at (203) 854-7887 or visit the Assessor’s home page to see what is required for proof. The Assessors office is responsible for issuing credits and removing items from the list of taxable property. Taxpayers must apply for motor vehicle tax credits within a limited time. Documentation may also be faxed to (203) 854-7986.

The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles continues to advise Connecticut residents to be alert for  potential problems with the way some motor vehicles are coded for municipal property tax purposes. IF YOU  RECEIVE  A TAX BILL FROM A TOWN THAT YOU DID NOT RESIDE IN OR GARAGE YOUR VEHICLE IN  AS OF OCTOBER 1, 2015,  then you must contact the Tax Assessor of that town to request that the vehicle be transferred to the correct town for proper and timely taxation.

If your vehicle registration is due to expire within 60 days, or if your registration has already expired, and you have not received a renewal notification from DMV, then you must contact the DMV. They may have an incorrect address for you. If you are being reported with a ‘tax compliance’ or other compliance issue by a town you have never lived in or garaged a vehicle in, then you must contact the town that is reporting the compliance issue for resolution. 

The Department of Motor Vehicles is trying to encourage customers to use their online system instead of going in person to the branches. You can avoid the inconvenience of waiting at the branches by attempting to perform your transaction on line with DMV.   Please visit: www.ct.gov/dmv/online for the following: Registration renewals; plate cancellations; verifying your renewal status after paying back taxes; and more. 

The Tax Collector’s Office makes every effort to list all delinquent taxes owed, if any, on the consolidated tax statement.   All past due taxes must be paid in full before payment on current bills may be accepted. Interest on the consolidated tax statement is calculated through January 31, 2017. 

 Real estate tax bills may not reflect recent changes of ownership. If a taxpayer recently purchased property, and does not receive a tax bill for that property from the City, he or she should contact the Tax Collector’s Office to receive a duplicate copy, and verify with the Assessors that their records have been updated. Taxpayers can also look up their tax bill on line on the city’s web site, www.norwalkct.org, by clicking the “Tax Bill Lookup” feature. The tax payment is due by February 1, regardless of whether or not a bill has been received. If a taxpayer who has recently sold real property still receives a tax bill, he or she should contact the Assessors. 

 Taxpayers should read their statements carefully. If the notation “escrow account” appears on the tax statement, tax office records indicate that the real estate taxes in question are to be paid by an escrow agent or mortgage institution. If this is incorrect, the taxpayer should contact the Tax Collector’s Office immediately. Again, PAYMENT IS STILL DUE BY FEBRUARY  1, regardless of whether or not the tax office records accurately reflect the existence of an escrow account. Tax liens for unpaid real estate taxes and sewer use charges will be filed in March 2017  in accordance with state law. Taxpayers who have recently refinanced or paid off a mortgage are advised to contact their lending institution to determine who is to pay their current tax installment.

Veterans’ exemptions and all other exemptions (blind, disabled, etc.) all appear on the tax statement in a consolidated amount under “exemptions.” Taxpayers who participate in the various state and local tax relief programs, such as Circuit Breaker and tax relief for elderly resident homeowners, will see a tax credit appear on their tax statement. Questions about exemptions, tax relief, or the property revaluation should be directed to the Assessor’s Office.

Anyone who does not receive a bill he or she is supposed to pay should contact the Tax Collector's office at (203) 854-7731, or by fax at (203) 854-7770.  Generally, questions about tax bills, delinquent taxes, interest and other charges, and amounts paid, should be directed to the Tax Collector’s Office. 

Taxpayers also now have the option of looking up their taxes on line on the City of Norwalk’s website.  Visit www.norwalkct.org and click on the “Tax Bill Lookup” link, or access the Tax Collector’s home page.  Taxpayers can search for their bill by name, parcel number, street address, or customer number.  Taxpayers can also search their past tax payment history on line.

Contact numbers for the Assessor’s Office are tel. (203) 854-7887, or by fax at (203) 854-7986. Questions about revaluation, assessed value, adjustments, exemptions or credits, tax relief programs, and improper motor vehicle tax billings should be directed to the Assessor’s Office. 

Taxpayers who own real estate and whose property is located in a sewered district will see their annual sewer use charge listed separately on their tax statement, although the charge is still included as part of their real estate tax. Entities exempt from taxation are nonetheless subject to sewer use charges. As with unpaid real estate taxes, if a taxpayer does not pay sewer use charges on time, a lien will be filed against the property by the City.

For more information and answers to frequently asked questions about property taxes, assessments, revenues, expenditures, and city government in general, visit the City of Norwalk’s website at www.norwalkct.org.  An informative pamphlet entitled, “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Property Taxes” can be downloaded from the Tax Collector’s homepage.  

As the owner of taxable property, the taxpayer is responsible for timely payment of all taxes due.  State law explicitly places this burden upon the taxpayer.  This is so whether or not the taxpayer receives a tax bill.   The taxpayer WILL be responsible for interest charges if the bill is paid late, regardless of the reason.  The Tax Collector’s Office does NOT make exceptions, and does NOT waive interest charges under ANY circumstances. If a taxpayer does not receive a bill for which he or she responsible, he or she should the Tax Collector’s Office before the last day to pay, or go to www.norwalkct.org and click on the ‘Tax Bill Lookup’ link to view a copy of his or her bill on line, or to print a copy.

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