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Clinics offer help for delinquent city taxpayers

The second of five scheduled tax clinics to assist Memphians delinquent in paying their city property taxes will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday (May 19) at the Benjamin Hooks Central Library at 3030 Poplar.

The clinics are jointly sponsored by Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, the law firm charged with collecting delinquent city taxes, and the City of Memphis Treasurer's Office. In Memphis, municipal property taxes are due June 1 of each year and become delinquent after August 31.

"The purpose of the clinics is to reach out to taxpayers in their communities so they can talk directly to members of our staff to discuss their property tax issues,'' said Melissa Palo, the law firm's managing attorney in Memphis. "Our goal is to work with taxpayers to find a way to pay their delinquent taxes.''

During the first taxpayer clinic in March, the Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson successfully assisted 15 taxpayers, with each placed on a reasonable payment plan designed to prevent their property from being forced into a tax sale.

Palo said anyone planning to attend the clinic to discuss property tax issues should bring a tax bill, a recent letter from the Linebarger law firm, or their account (parcel) number. Those interested in attending should call 901-260-4058 to reserve a seat. Reservations allow the law firm's staff to research your account prior to the clinic. The clinic will begin with a brief overview by the City of Memphis Treasurer's Office and law firm representatives describing the tax process and the consequences of being delinquent.

"As tax collectors, we understand that there's a personal reason why each delinquent taxpayer is behind in paying his or her property taxes. We're here to try and help them find a way to pay their taxes and become current,'' Palo said.

In November 2011, delinquent taxpayers received their final notice from the City of Memphis to pay their 2010 taxes or face being sued.  After taxes become 17 months delinquent, state law requires the City of Memphis to file a lawsuit for collection of all delinquent land taxes.

As required by law, on February 1, 2012, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of City of Memphis, including 18,144 real property accounts, to collect more than $20 million in delinquent 2010 taxes owed to the City of Memphis. It's the ninth annual lawsuit the law firm has filed on behalf of the city.

"It really is critical for taxpayers delinquent in paying their property taxes to pay them either in full or in a scheduled payment effort,'' Palo said. "Failure to pay your property taxes could result in foreclosure, and we don't want that to happen to any homeowner.''

Since the City of Memphis hired Linebarger to collect its delinquent taxes, Linebarger has collected more than $182.9 million in back taxes.

Three more clinics are scheduled: July 28 – Frayser Community Development Corporation (CDC), 3684 North Watkins St., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; August 25 – Whitehaven Branch Library, 4120 Millbranch Rd., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Nov. 10, 2012 – Orange Mound Community Center, 2572 Park Ave., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

(For more information, please contact: Melissa Palo at 901-528-1844.)

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