At the request of City Treasurer Spencer Coggs, the State of Wisconsin Legislature passed and Gov. Tony Evers signed Act 185, which included a provision enabling City Councils to pass resolutions enacting a temporary moratorium on the assessment of interest and penalties on delinquent property tax installments due after April 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020 due to COVID-19.
“Unemployed people who fall behind in their taxes because of Coronavirus shouldn’t have to bear the burden of paying additional penalties and interest” Coggs stated.
A resolution was co-sponsored by the entire Common Council, and passed unanimously.
“Residents across the city continue to deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19 and as elected officials we need to do everything we can to provide relief, “said Ald. Milele Coggs. “The waiving of penalties and interest on late property tax payments is one tool we are able to utilize to support residents. I want to thank my colleagues for their unanimous support of this resolution, as well as Treasurer Coggs for initiating this with his request to the governor.”
To be eligible, a taxpayer’s property tax installment payments must have been current and not delinquent on April 1, 2020. For those taxpayers who were late on property tax payments before April 1, they cannot be forgiven for penalties from April through September.
In addition, if your account is not up to date by Sept. 30, interest and penalties would be charged on the remaining balance beginning Oct. 1 with interest and penalties charged back to Feb. 1.
“It isn’t exactly what we had asked for,” City Treasurer Spencer Coggs said. “We didn’t get everything we wanted, but that is what the state came up with.”
In the Treasurer’s April tax collection period, 2,895 City of Milwaukee property tax accounts went delinquent for failure to pay the installment due. These accounts were not just limited to residential owner-occupied properties, but included rental properties where the renters could not pay the rent because they were furloughed or lost their jobs, so the landlords were then unable to pay the installment taxes due. It includes small business owners who have been forced to close due to the pandemic, so without income could not pay the installment due. Treasurer Coggs stated that this is the basis for having the moratorium on interest and penalties on tax delinquent 2019 installments for City of Milwaukee taxpayers.
The City of Milwaukee’s resolution concluded,
“Whereas, Adoption of a City resolution will provide an opportunity for property taxpayers whose households have been financially disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic breathing space to reestablish economic stability without the burden of incurring interest charges and penalties on late property tax installment payments; now, therefore, be it Resolved, By the Common Council of the City of Milwaukee, that the City Treasurer shall take all action necessary to waive and otherwise not charge interest and penalties on a late installment payment owed by a taxpayer on the property tax installment payment program between April 1 and Sept. 30, 2020, in accordance with Section 105(25) of 2019 Wisconsin Act 185”.
“People say that there is nothing certain except death and taxes. Death in the form of COVID-19 doesn’t take a holiday, but perhaps we can provide a kind of ‘Tax Penalties and Interest Holiday’ for those people who have been slammed by this pandemic”, said Treasurer Coggs.