Topic:
LEGISLATION; MOTOR VEHICLES; MUNICIPAL FINANCE; PROPERTY TAX;
Location:
ASSESSMENT; MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES; TAXES - PROPERTY;

OLR Research Report


April 21, 2008

 

2008-R-0281

ERRORS IN MOTOR VEHICLE PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS AND COLLECTIONS

By: John Rappa, Principal Analyst

You asked how tax assessors are held accountable for certain mistakes in assessing motor vehicles for property taxes: failing to change a motor vehicle owner's address or recording wrong data when doing so. You also asked if the legislature considered bills to address assessors' mistakes.

There are several points in the tax assessment and collection process where assessors or property owners can identify and correct errors, but the law does not sanction assessors if they fail to make address changes or make mistakes when doing so.

The first point occurs December 1, which is the Department of Motor Vehicles' (DMV) annual deadline for sending each town a list of the motor vehicles subject to property taxes there. This requirement reflects the fact that people often sell motor vehicles to others who reside in different towns. The list must include owners' names and addresses and their vehicles' identification number. Assessors who do not receive an up-to-date list by December 1 should contact DMV (CGS 14-163).

The second point occurs when towns send out tax bills. The law requires tax collectors to mail or hand deliver each taxpayer's property tax bill, but does not absolve taxpayers from paying the tax if they did not receive a bill (CGS 12-130). Consequently, the law implicitly requires a taxpayer to contact the tax collector if he or she did not receive a bill. Doing so allows the taxpayer to check for errors or mistakes and pay the taxes on time, thus avoiding the statutory interest penalty for delinquent taxes.

If the taxpayer received a bill with a clerical error or omission he or she may ask the tax assessor to correct it and issue a certificate of correction (CGS 12-60). But the taxpayer must do so within three years after the tax's due date. If the assessor disagrees with the taxpayer and refuses to issue the certificate, the taxpayer may appeal the assessor's action to the board of assessment appeals.

The third point occurs if the taxpayer is charged interest for delinquent taxes. The law allows the town to waive the interest if the tax assessor and the tax collector agree that the delinquency resulted from an error on their part and not any act or failure on the taxpayer's part (CGS 12-145).

It does not appear that the legislature considered bills sanctioning tax assessors for errors and mistakes. But, as Table 1 shows, it considered bills intended to reduce the number of errors and mistakes.

Table 1: Bills Dealing with Errors and Mistakes

in Motor Vehicle Tax Bills

Year

Bill

Summary

Status

1990

SB 402

Limited the time during which assessors and board of assessment appeals could correct clerical omissions or mistakes to three years after the tax is due

PA 90-101

1997

sSB 1118 (File 742)

Required DMV to include in the information it provides to the towns, the social security or federal identification number along with the names and addresses of motor vehicle owners residing in each town

Died in committee

2002

sHB 5637

Changed the time for correcting assessment errors from three years after the tax is due to within three years after the error is discovered

Died in the House

2004

sHB 5475

Established rules for determining the town where a motor vehicle is subject to the property tax and required annual DMV lists to towns to identify the town where a motor vehicle is subject to this tax

PA 04-228

2008

sSB 602

(File 429)

● Bans towns from collecting back taxes on motor vehicles more than six years after they were due

● Caps at three years the accrual of interest on delinquent motor vehicles property taxes

Died in committee

JR:ts