Richmond mayor proposes tax amnesty program

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you're trying to figure out how you're going to make your real estate tax payment at the end of the week in Richmond, there might be some relief on the way. Mayor Dwight Jones is proposing the city's first ever tax amnesty program.

If you live in Richmond, you might be catching a break. Homeowners pay real estate taxes twice a year. The first payment is due this Friday. The mayor wants to offer you some breathing room.

With four days to spare, Luis Gonzalez handed over a huge chunk of change to the city tax collector.

"For 2010, it was $1202.00 and for the first 6 months of 2011, it's $700.80," said Gonzalez.

But only hours before, Gonzalez called city hall hoping for some reprieve.

"I asked if there was a way I could pay every month or every two months, and I was told no," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez bought this home on Wainwright Drive last March as a fixer-upper. But couldn't flip it fast enough. He pays taxes on the $126,000 assessed value. Fortunately, he now has renters.

"We were prepared. We had saved some money but I'm pretty sure there's people that are not prepared," said Gonzalez.

The mayor's proposed tax amnesty program may be the answer. Each year, the city sends out roughly 73,000 real estate tax bills. $110 million is owed in the first half of 2011.

Taxpayers make two payments, in January and June. The January deadline is this Friday. Under the mayor's plan, taxpayers who can't make that date would have until April 15th to pay their bills without penalty.

The mayor is also proposing lowering the city's interest rate on late taxes from 10% to 5% for this year. City council has the final say. A vote is scheduled for later this month. If approved, the amnesty program could take effect on February 15th.

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