CLEVELAND, Tenn.-Will a written reminder persuade delinquent personal property taxpayers to visit the Bradley County trustee's office and pay up?
County officials hope so.
County Attorney Joe Byrd said "personal property" is everything used by businesses and professionals other than land and structures - "real property."
For example, a mower used by a commercial lawn service is personal property of that business.
The delinquent personal property tax list here ranges from some factories to small offices. The unpaid tax bills range from $6 to more than $6,000, with most being under $100, records show.
Bradley County has put a low priority on collecting these taxes in the past. But Byrd, Trustee Mike Smith and Property Assessor Stanley Thompson have considered the problem for several years.
On April 1, the county will mail notices to those owing personal property taxes for the 2009 tax year.
The hope is most of those taxpayers will respond with a check. If everything owing is paid, the county will collect about $100,000, officials said.
"Most of Bradley County's businesses and professionals work hard and are diligent to pay their share of taxes that support the many services that benefit them," Smith said in a written statement. "As county trustee, it is not my aim to embarrass individuals or create difficulties for businesses in these economic times. However, state law requires payment of the personal property taxes and I am obligated to enforce payment that is fair to all of the taxpayers of Bradley County."
Thompson said in a letter that he fully supports Smith and Byrd's effort.
"Due to the fact that a personal property tax is difficult to file a lien against, because it cannot be tied to the land it resides on, the penalty for not paying is minimal. Supporting the proposal to collect personal property tax will assure me and my staff that our efforts are not in vain," Thompson wrote.
Delinquent taxpayers who don't settle up could incur legal action including court fees, records search fees and other costly charges, he said.
Last week the Bradley County Commission also took a stand on delinquent personal property taxes. Members voted to support state legislation pending in Nashville that would require businesses and offices to prove they have paid those taxes before they can be issued any licenses.