Local officials have identified hundreds of delinquent taxpayers who, combined, are believed to owe the town of Oxford more than $10 million in back taxes going back 15 years.
However, the exact amount may be less, officials said, because bad accounting practices and criminal theft and forgery in the tax office over that time may have caused some people’s accounts to look like they had a delinquency when in fact they may not have.
First Selectman George Temple and new Tax Collector Cayenne Spremullo held a news conference at on Tuesday to discuss the recently identified back tax issue. They explained the situation to four local news reporters and provided them with a list containing hundreds of names of taxpayers who currently have a delinquency note on file. (See list attached.)
The town will now attempt to reach the people who are showing as delinquent and figure out whether they have paid. If they have not, the town will take action, Temple said, and could either work with taxpayers to recoup the money or take drastic measures such as filing tax liens against the properties and/or auction off properties where owners owe a lot of money.
While officials say there are people who may have blatantly disregarded their duty to pay taxes, they realize there is a strong possibility others may be on their delinquent list even though they paid their fair share. That’s because former Tax Collector has been arrested and accused of embezzling more than $670,000 from the tax office – a number that many believe is higher – and she would play with numbers to cover up her thefts, police say. Therefore, there are some taxpayers who paid but have a delinquency on their accounts because Guillet did not credit accounts of people who paid to make it look like that is why her collection batches were short when in fact they were short because she was pocketing money, police investigators said.
Still, Oxford wants to find out who actually owes money and has gone back 15 years, the fullest extent of the law, to determine the facts. They have discovered the computer system shows delinquencies totaling $10.28 million.
“The totals involved include amounts owed due to clerical errors and poor accounting,” Temple said, adding that there were other mistakes leading to "amounts that can only be explained by past dishonesty and taxes in fact that are owed..."
“In addition, clerical errors will be corrected and action will be taken to insure that no such errors happen in the future,” he said. “This does not mean the town will embark on a heartless rampage against people who may be victims of the economy, but we will enforce collection wherever it is deemed necessary.”
We will bring Oxford Patch readers more on this story. See the attached PDF for a list of people on the delinquency list and how much they owe. Please note that we realize the PDF is sideways. We've tried to rotate it but have been unsuccessful. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. The list is on file at Town Hall.