Harwich Taking Softer Approach to Collect Back Taxes

HARWICH – Officials in Harwich are taking a restrained approach to collect owed back taxes without auctioning tax liens to private investors.

A tax lien auction was considered last year to reduce the $5.7 million in owed taxes but was postponed by selectmen after concerns were raised that the auction would result in some residents being forced from their homes.

Treasurer and Tax Collector Amy Bullock said the publicity from the potential auction helped collect more funds.

“We did collect $583,000 in the past year,” Bullock said. “That’s good. We collected more than we added but I think a good part of that was the tax lien auction that had been advertised.”

Last year there were 306 properties with tax liens and that number is down to 283 this year.

The delinquent tax total as of last month was $5.8 million. That number increases due to a 16 percent interest assessed each year.

Town Administrator Chris Clark said they are working to establish payment plans or making property in lieu of taxes agreements.

“There are folks who are in desperate straits who may be land wealthy and not income capable,” Clark said. “I think that where they do fall behind in taxes, this is another vehicle we can use.”

The town has also brought in another attorney, Dawn Bloom, of Bloom of Berenson & Bloom of Easthampton, to rework existing tax payment plans that are falling behind or not making headway.

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