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Facing Foreclosure? Help Is On The Way!

Lansing Officials And Bay County Treasurer Are Busy Helping Residents!

September 28, 2008       2 Comments
By: MyBayCity Staff

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Facing Foreclosure Due To Back Taxes? Help Is Here!

Homeowners all over the state of Michigan are feeling the economy crunch and at risk of losing their homes to tax foreclosure. Those in Lansing are working hard to pass a new Taxpayer Home Protection Act so that homeowners facing foreclosure due to non-paid homestead taxes have the opportunity to get extensions and exemptions on their property taxes before losing the roof over their head.

The bipartisan Taxpayer Home Protection Act aims to streamline the process of struggling homeowners applying for an exemption to the property tax, as well as adds additional notification requirements so homeowners know exactly when their property could be foreclosed on and what forms of assistance are available to them. The plan also will exclude water and utility bills from items that can trigger foreclosure and give homeowners more flexibility in repaying delinquent taxes before foreclosure.

The Taxpayer Home Protection Act would establish a uniform process under which homeowners can apply for poverty exemptions and hardship extensions on their property taxes, as well as ensure that every property owner with a household income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty levelis protected. It also would provide greater transparency by requiring that clear and simply stated notices be provided to every individual with a legal interest in the property.

The Taxpayer Home Protection Act is the product of a joint effort between legal advocates and county treasurers to standardize and simplify the process for dealing with delinquent property taxes.

Bay County Treasurer, Richard Brzezinski has a program that is currently assisting residents facing back taxes and desperate to save their homes. Sadly, many residents are unaware of this localized plan.

House Bill 6162 standardizes the Poverty Exemptions on current tax bills at the local city or township. The bill also requires the local unit to make the availability more known to the taxpayers.

The Michigan Association of County Treasurers supports this bill because many times they see people facing tax foreclosure that did not take advantage of the poverty exemption at the local unit.

House bill 6168 and 6169 addresses the granting of a hardship by Bay County Treasurer for people facing losing their property to tax foreclosure. These bills are also supported by MACT. Each County is required to have a hardship policy however there was latitude in how to administer it regarding income levels.

"Bay County is at 150% of the federal poverty income level. The new Taxpayer Home Protection Act bill will standardize it at 200% of Fed Poverty income amounts," said Bay County Treasurer, Richard Brzezinski.

The bill will allow the County Treasurer to leave the interest at 12% per year instead of 18% for property facing foreclosure within 1 year. The granting of the hardship allows more time to pay (usually 1 year) but does not forgive any taxes, penalties or fees.

"The idea of the hardship policy is that taxpayers are required to pay their taxes. However, if people are truly struggling they deserve one break. In Bay County, I require the taxpayer to fill out an application similar to a loan application to help determine their income, expenses, assets and help to come up with a payment plan that will help them catch up on their delinquent taxes," said Brezezinski.

"Currently I have 23 taxpayers with hardship agreements. This is about twice the amount I had last year," Brezezinski added.

Bay County tax foreclosures have been minimal when compared to other communities. This year there were 8 houses foreclosed upon locally, however 4 of them had people in them, which was a first for Bay County Treasurer, Richard Brezezinski. This, Compared to Saginaw that forecloses on 600 properties a year and Genese County that forecloses on 1,000 a year.

Bay County's delinquent trends are increasing. In 2007, $5.7 million was brought in delinquent in 2008 this increased 24% to $7.1 million. At this time last year, Bay County had 296 properties facing foreclosure in 6 months. This year it is 41 % higher at 420. Given the status of the economy it is most likely to get worse.

According to RealtyTrac, Michigan reported 136,000 foreclosure filings in 2007 which is a 68 percent increase from 2006 and 282 percent increase from 2005. Since the beginning of 2008, Michigan has reported a total of 62,138 foreclosures, posting one of the top five foreclosure rates in the country.

The cost of everything from a gallon of milk to a gallon of gas continues to rise and many families are struggling just to make ends meet. Many of these same families are losing their home to foreclosures and we must do everything we can to lend them a helping hand.

The Taxpayer Home Protection Plan is not intended to bail out residents who simply don't pay their property taxes. It is meant to assist residents who can barely afford to put food on the table, buy a gallon of gas or keep their lights on. This plan will help keep more residents in their home as those in Lansing continue their efforts to get the state of Michigan, back on track.

If your a Bay County resident facing foreclosure due to back taxes, click here for assistance! Help is available to you! Bay County Hardship Application

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"The BUZZ" - Read Feedback From Readers!

Richard Brzezinski says:       On September 30, 2008 at 11:42 AM
Read your article today, Great job in summarizing a lot of information and getting it out to the public.

Bay County Treasurer
Richard Brzezinski
Agree? or Disagree?

MyBayCity Staff

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