By Milwaukee Courier Staff
Milwaukee City Treasurer Spencer Coggs has called on the governor and the State Legislature to suspend interest and penalty on Milwaukee property taxes regarding the current taxable year, due to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many citizens are unemployed and numbers of businesses are closed due to the outbreak.
“Many people are suffering medically and economically from this pandemic. Unemployed people who fall behind in their taxes shouldn’t have to bear the burden of paying additional penalties and interest,” Coggs stated.
State law regulates how and when property tax interest and penalties are paid. On March 20, 2020, as the outbreak worsened, Treasurer Coggs petitioned the governor and the State Legislative leaders of both houses to aid Milwaukee taxpayers. The letter went to:
Gov. Tony Evers, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, and Rep. Robin Vos
With every community in the State of Wisconsin facing an unprecedented situation brought about by the coronavirus COVID 19 pandemic, many Wisconsin businesses are closed, and residents find themselves furloughed with both businesses and residents being unable to meet their financial obligations, including paying their property taxes.
Since Wisconsin State Statutes govern the billing and collection of property taxes, as well as delinquent tax interest and penalties, and currently recognize no exceptions for their assessment, municipal treasurers have no authority on their own to delay property tax billings nor waive tax account interest and penalties.
I strongly urge the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor to pass legislation that would establish a set time period moratorium on assessing interest and penalties on prope1iy tax accounts. Individual property taxpayers, as well as hard pressed small businesses deeply impacted by the pandemic, would benefit from the relief of not having to pay interest and penalties on property tax accounts, when many are facing the loss of income due to businesses being temporarily closed and employees being furloughed.
Coggs maintains that since the pandemic may continue for quite some time, that Milwaukee citizens should not have to bear the brunt of this virus economically.
“This is a serious health challenge for our nation. In Wisconsin, only the State Legislature and the governor can provide citizens with tax relief from property tax penalties and interest. The least that government can do in these troubled times is to financially relieve our over-burdened taxpayers,” said Coggs.