A temporary measure designed to relieve some of the immediate pressure on municipal taxpayers is but one of the many Executive Orders (28 as of this writing) Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has issued to mitigate the economic havoc the COVID-19 crisis has wrought.
Executive Order No. 7S contains provisions requiring towns and cities to adopt one or both of two plans: The Deferment Program and the Low Interest Program.
Municipalities must report which program or programs they are participating in to the state Office of Policy and Management (OPM) by April 25. OPM will publish guidelines for the towns to help in administering this assistance.
The Deferment Program allows taxpayers to hold off on payment of their local taxes for a period of 90 days without penalty. It applies to eligible taxpayers, businesses, nonprofits, and residents, and covers taxes on real property, personal property and motor vehicles, as well as municipal water, sewer and electric rates.
Eligible taxpayers, businesses, nonprofits, and residents are those that attest to or document significant economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, and/or those that document they are providing relief to those significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through approval of the local legislative body or town meeting process, municipalities may extend eligibility for the Deferment Program to other categories of taxpayers, businesses, nonprofits, and residents.
New Milford, for example, has decided to make the Deferment Program available to all taxpayers, according to a News-Times story.
Among other communities in our region, Danbury and New Fairfield have decided to offer the Deferment Program, using guidelines on eligibility.
“Eligible residents must show their income is at least 20 percent less due to the coronavirus — due to being furloughed, their hours reduced or are now unemployed,” the News-Times story says. “Businesses and nonprofits must show their revenue is 30 percent less from March to June, compared to what they made during those months in 2019.”
The Deferment Program will hopefully provide some recovery time for those who have been significantly impacted by the crisis, such as a job loss or reduction in income.
It’s important to note this program is not available for bank escrowed taxes that are part of a mortgage payment.
The Low Interest Program offers a reduced interest rate of 3%, as opposed to 18%, for tax delinquencies for a 90-day period, which is also designed to relieve some pressure on taxpayers.
New Milford and Danbury decided against offering the Low Interest Loan Program, the News-Times reported, but New Fairfield is participating.
The easiest way to determine your community’s status on the relief programs is to call the tax collector’s office and inquire. If either or both programs are adopted or under consideration, you can then determine if it makes sense to participate.
Should anyone need assistance in understanding or interpreting municipal tax obligations during this stressful time, or any other municipal codes and ordinances, Cramer & Anderson has a large and highly respected contingent of Municipal Law attorneys ready to help.
Begin the process by clicking the “Contact me” button at the end to connect by email.
I serve as Town Attorney for New Milford, as well as Towns of Sharon, Washington and North Canaan, and also serve as Kent’s Town Attorney in conjunction with Partner Lorry Schiesel, a former first selectman of Kent.
Attorney Schiesel is also Town Attorney for Bridgewater, represents New Milford’s Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA), and provides legal services as needed to the Sharon WPCA.
Our attorneys are working remotely and connecting with clients using technology such as Zoom, as well as by phone and email. For more information, call the New Milford office at (860) 355-2631 or see the firm’s website.