Westport, CT – First Selectman Jim Marpe announced today that the Town of Westport will offer the tax relief deferment program for eligible taxpayers for the January installment period. The authority to offer such program is granted by Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 9R, issued on December 16, 2020, which suspends and modifies tax deadlines and collection efforts for tax bills that become due and payable on January 1, 2021. All municipalities in the State of Connecticut must offer a tax relief program.
In April, the Board of Finance recommended and the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) approved the administration’s proposed tax relief deferment program. Executive Order 9R allows the municipality to reinstitute that program for the January tax period without any further approvals.
Taxpayers must demonstrate their eligibility to participate in the tax deferment program. Taxpayers who were eligible for the tax deferment program in April or July must apply again to be eligible for the January payment deferral.
Mr. Marpe said, “The tax relief deferment program was offered to Westporters for both the April and the July tax payments. I am pleased to say that this program was a success, helping almost 200 applicants during each tax period. Offering the program again this January will help provide relief to eligible residential and commercial taxpayers who are struggling with the challenges brought on by COVID-19.”
The tax deferment program is essentially an extended grace period on tax payments to assist Westport taxpayers suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19. Eligible taxpayers can utilize the tax deferment program for the January 2021 tax bills on real estate, personal property, motor vehicles and sewer assessments so that payments made any time within three months from each bill’s due date will not incur interest charges or penalties.
Applications for the deferment program must account for one of the following hardships:
- Household has suffered a reduction in income of at least 20 percent due to COVID-19.
- Business or nonprofit revenue from October 2020 to January 2021 is expected to be reduced by at least 30 percent compared to the same time last year.
- For landlords: Income is significantly reduced.
- Landlords can also provide proof of commensurate forbearance programs offered to their own tenants to be eligible. For example:
i. Deferment of 25 percent of rent for three months to tenants;
ii. A deferment of rent to be paid over three months; or
iii. Other similar forbearance as determined by the Tax Collector.
Applicants must submit documentation. The application form and additional information can be found at www.westportct.gov/TaxRelief .
Applicants will have until January 28, 2021 to submit their requests without incurring a penalty on their unpaid January 1, 2021 taxes.
The proposed deferment program extends the normal grace period for tax payments from one month to three months. Under the deferment program, taxpayers have until April 1, 2021 to make their January l, 2021 installment payment. If payment is not received by April 1, 2021 interest will accrue retroactively starting January 1, 2021.
Westport taxpayers are advised to use the deferment program only if delaying the tax payment will provide relief. The tax deferment program does not forgive tax payments. If January’s taxes are not paid by the April 1, 2021 deadline, late penalties will apply retroactively at 18% annually or 1.5% per month.
Under the Governor’s executive orders, banks and mortgage services that hold tax payments in escrow must continue to pay the Town when the taxes are due, even if the homeowner is participating in a moratorium on mortgage payments. Irrespective of whether a homeowner meets the hardship requirements, banks and servicers would still be obligated to pay the taxes.
The Tax Deferment Program will be a collaborative effort carried out by the Offices of the Assessor and the Tax Collector. It will also include consultation with the Human Services and the Finance Departments. A dedicated call line, 203-341-1147, and email, TaxRelief@westportCT.gov, have been set up to answer basic questions. If you have further questions, in person appointments are available by contacting the call line.
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