Help is available for people with delinquent taxes


By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 9:38 am on Friday, January 03, 2014

 

STANTON — The Montcalm County treasurer wants delinquent taxpayers to know help is available.

In the past, the Montcalm County Treasurer’s Office has granted one-year extensions on properties in danger of foreclosure. According to Treasurer JoAnne Vukin, this involved a detailed application process, including income specifics and expense statements.

This year, for people who know they only need a little more time, Vukin’s office will be granting a four-month extension. Vukin will also be asking a judge to sign an order giving that extension.

People who don’t get pay their 2011 taxes by the July 2014 deadline will still have their property foreclosed on and sent to a public auction.

“It is my desire to make the process as simple as possible to help as many people as possible,” Vukin said. “For those who know they will not be able to make the deadline, I will still handle those as in the past and if they qualify I will withhold them from foreclosure for another year.”

Vukin said many delinquent taxpayers depend on their income tax returns to pay their delinquent taxes. However, the IRS recently announced the opening date for filing income taxes has changed this year from Jan. 21 to Jan. 31. The change in date is due to the annual process for updating IRS systems experiencing “significant” delays last October following the 16-day federal government shutdown, according to IRS officials.

The IRS will not process any tax returns before Jan. 31. IRS officials are encouraging taxpayers to use e-file or Free File as the fastest way to receive refunds. The April 15 tax deadline remains the same.

Vukin said the delayed IRS opening date for filing income taxes might affect when taxpayers receive their returns. Vukin has the ability to grant a hardship extension for properties in forfeiture, which allows her to withhold those properties from foreclosure thus giving the taxpayer more time to pay the delinquent taxes.

However, a property owner must request a hardship extension at a show cause hearing, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, on the third floor of the Montcalm County Administrative Building (old courthouse) in Stanton. This hearing gives Vukin two weeks to process any hardship applications before she goes to court on Feb. 7 to request foreclosure on delinquent properties.

Vukin is also referring people who can’t make their tax deadline to Step Forward Michigan, a Michigan State Housing Development Authority program. The service, also dubbed “Help for Hardest Hit” program, is part of a federally funded program designed to help eligible homeowners who are struggling to make mortgage or tax payments and stay in their homes.

“For those who can document some type of financial hardship, Step Forward Michigan has programs that deal with loan rescue, unemployment mortgage subsidy, mortgage modification plan, principle curtailment and — the part I am most excited about — delinquent real estate tax payment,” Vukin said. “Delinquent tax payment is a new element to the program and it allows homeowners to receive up to $30,000 to pay past due property taxes or taxes and mortgage payments combined.”

For more information about the Step Forward Michigan program, call Ionia County MSU Extension at (616) 527-5357 or go to StepForwardMichigan.org online.
A new service is also available to help disabled veterans with their delinquent taxes, thanks to the Michigan Public Act 161 of 2013. The Michigan Tax Commission recently determined disabled veterans who are eligible for the recently expanded disabled veterans property tax exemption can now file for that exemption in July 2014 if they missed the December 2013 deadline.

PA 161 provides totally disabled veterans an exemption from property taxes on their primary residence and extends that exemption to a disabled veteran’s spouse, if the veteran dies before the tax break is granted. Previously, veterans could only qualify for a property tax exemption if they were receiving assistance for specially adapted housing.

To apply for the exemption, the disabled veteran or their unremarried surviving spouse or their legal designee must file an annual affidavit with their local unit of government.

Call the Montcalm County Treasurer’s Office at (989) 831-7334 for more information about services to assist with delinquent taxes.

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