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Penalties accruing for late tax returns

While the deadline for filing taxes passed over two months ago, many Ironton residents forgot they are required to file for city income taxes. At least that’s the idea that Finance Director Kristen Martin gets.

Ironton’s income tax department is still trying to collect fines from delinquent accounts and from those who have not yet filed their returns.

“People that filed last year, this year it’s like they have amnesia,” Martin said. “They can honestly not remember that they came in and filed last year for a mandatory ordinance.”

According to a law effective November 2007, all Ironton residents over the age of 18 are required to file an income tax return with the city by April 15.

Even those who work in the city whose taxes are withheld are required to file a tax return.

The city requires residents to file taxes even if he or she works in the city. This is because they may have another job outside the city or they may have rental property, to name a few reasons.

The income tax department sent letters explaining the ordinance to residents in January and in January 2009.

The letter states that the tax ordinance “requires all residents of the City of Ironton who are at least 18 years of age and who are subject to the Ironton Income Tax Ordinance #5365, regardless of where the resident’s income is earned, to file a return with the city.”

The letter further explains that a full-time student who is 26 or younger is not required to pay taxes on the first $3,000 of their income.

It also states that retired and disabled residents with no taxable income can get a waiver form from the income tax department or online at www.ironton-ohio.com.

Martin said she couldn’t be sure that the letter was sent to residents in January 2008 because she was not working for the city at that time.

“I know for at least two years this letter has gone out,” Martin said.

Despite the informational letters, this year more than 1,700 letters have gone out to residents with delinquent accounts or to those who have not filed their taxes. Some residents may also have received the letter in error.

The only way to know if the city sent the letter by mistake is to contact the income tax department, Martin said.

According to the city’s tax ordinance, residents who do not file taxes by April 15 are required to pay a $25 fine if the tax return is filed within 30 days after the due date.

If the tax return is filed between 30 and 120 days after the due date, a $50 penalty is imposed. Residents are required to pay a $100 penalty if their tax returns are 120 days or more late. The penalties are explained in the informational letter.

Martin said that typically it takes the department a few weeks to sort through income tax returns after April 15.

Because of this, by the time residents receive a letter of notification that they have not filed a return, they are already at least 30 days late.

Besides the penalties, there may also be interest and penalties for each month the taxes are delinquent.

Martin said she has been getting between five and 10 phone calls about the penalties each day. Residents have also been calling the mayors office and coming into the income tax department, she said.

Some residents have been refusing to pay the late penalties. The city will take court action against residents who have not paid those fines, she said.

“Our intent is not for people to get to that point,” Martin said.

The city’s income tax department can be reached at 532-9241.