Top Mult. Co. tax delinquents owe $6.5M+

Top Mult. Co. tax delinquents owe $6.5M+

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by Chris Willis, KGW Unit 8 Investigator

kgw.com

Posted on November 8, 2013 at 7:49 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 10:56 AM

PORTLAND -- If nothing is certain but death and taxes, someone forgot to tell a handful of people in Multnomah County. Some of them have not paid their property taxes in years.

“It hurts the city at its core,” said David Austin, spokesman of Multnomah County.

The owner of the Thunderbird Hotel on Hayden Island, which burned to the ground in September of 2012, has an outstanding property tax bill of $1,350,134.05.

The owner of Carroll’s Castle apartment complex on Lombard owes $83,469.71. She wouldn’t talk to KGW on camera, but tenants who live there did.

Kelly Wilks said he loves living there, and said the owner is one of the nicest women he’s ever met.

“She owns lots of properties. The lady's never thrown one thing away in her entire life and I'm sure dollar bills are included in that, so yeah, it does surprise me,” she said.

“There's a small group of people who don't pay their taxes and that's unfortunate for the rest of the public,” said Austin.

The county released a list of the top 25 property tax delinquents. All said and done, the people and businesses on the list owe the county more than $6.5 million in back property taxes.

So who loses? Ultimately, you do.

“Schools, city governments, local governments, police and fire, veterans services and programs for low income seniors,” said Austin.

All programs funded by property taxes.

Jody Wiser, of Tax Fairness Oregon, said these programs will take a hit with unpaid property taxes.

“The city had to lay-off a whole bunch of parks and rec people," she said.

Wiser said while services are affected, the county will eventually get its money, usually through large interest rates and penalties, which she said is fair.

“I would say property taxes are collected better than any other tax. The tax departments are fairly small and most of the effort is not in collection. It's in assessment,” Wiser said.

And while business owners owe the most, homeowners are also majorly delinquent. And some of these are not your ordinary homes. The list of people not paying their property taxes in Portland may be surprising because by all accounts, if you look at these homes, it appears the people can afford their taxes.

Owners of a palatial home on Southwest Terrace are behind more than $125,000. We went to the home, but nobody wanted to talk to us. It was the same story at a mansion on Southwest Greenwood, owned by former Trail Blazer Rasheed Wallace.

Wallace earned $17 million in his last year with the Blazers and some estimate his earnings at $156 million during his 17-year NBA career.

Today, the county said Wallace owes more than $150,000 in unpaid property taxes. And when we went to a beautiful home on Nansen Summit, where the owners are more than $113,000 behind on their property taxes, the owner seemed surprised.

“So that's just for here? For this house? Thank you," she said. "I love being informed.”

For the people not paying their property taxes, the certainty remains. Rest assured, said Austin, the tax man will come.

“The county will take possession of your property, and after a certain amount of time, we will auction off that property at a public auction and that money will go back to taxpayers,” he said.

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