Washington Law Review


Because of the severity of the situation resulting from delayed and partial property tax collections in recent years, various tax commissions, federal agencies, civic leagues, tax associations, and private bureaus instituted investigations seeking a remedy. One of the conclusions generally reached by investigators of property tax delinquency throughout the country has been that much of tax arrears can be attributed to "the methods that are ordinarily employed in collection." Specifically the phases of property tax collection methods which have been impugned as being conducive to delinquency are: a legal procedure neither carefully devised with the purpose of requiring prompt payment nor designed to meet the strain placed upon it by the economic depression; elective officials whose lack of competence and whose subservience to political influences serve to make them tax receivers instead of tax collectors; lack of efficient, modern methods of billing taxpayers and sending tax notices, of recording receipts, and handling office routine; failure to adjust the tax calendar so that the time and manner of payment is best suited to the convenience of taxpayers and the needs of government; the delay involved in the long period of time elapsing between assessment of property, the date of delinquency, and the enforcement of collection; the ineffectualness of penalties to promote prompt tax payments; the difficulty of obtaining a valid title to tax-reverted property; and the mistaken legislative and administrative leniency to delinquent taxpayers which often has weakened the effectiveness of enforcement. The following discussion of legal and administrative machinery for property tax collection in Washington should be viewed in the light of these criticisms, although all of them are not pertinent in this state.

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