Salem tax amnesty program brings in $73K

SALEM – The city has received $73,624 to date in income tax payments as a result of the income tax amnesty program made available to city taxpayers last fall, with more money to come from payment plans initiated through the program.

“I think that’s been an excellent thing for the city,” city Treasurer Bob Tullis said.

Tullis updated city council members on income tax receipts during their meeting Tuesday night, also identifying payments made as a result of the tax break program which ran from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15.

The city income tax amnesty program allowed people who had tax issues, such as not filing, a chance to resolve those issues at a reduced cost with all penalty charges waived and half of the interest charges waived.

The taxpayers still paid the full amount of the tax owed, but received a break on the penalties and interest charged from filing late.

The amnesty program served as a last chance for people who had not filed income tax to make it right before the city unleashed a collection firm program aimed at finding those who should have filed city income tax returns and didn’t.

Tullis said they had not heard anything more from Central Collection Agency, a Cleveland entity which reviewed federal tax returns and city income tax records and identified 667 city residents who filed federal returns but had no apparent record of filing city returns to report their income. CCA reviewed federal tax records for tax years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

People who received a letter from CCA have to contact the company to resolve their tax issue.

Councilman Rick Drummond asked if the income tax department had received any complaints regarding issues with CCA, saying he was told they were hard to reach by telephone and people were being asked to provide proof that they weren’t in Salem for years that they didn’t live in Salem.

Tullis said they’re asked for six years of documentation, noting that a person may have been in college but maintained Salem as their residence. He used that scenario as an example and said that would not negate them from having to file a city income tax return.

He said he would contact CCA about the other complaint regarding people having a hard time trying to reach the firm by phone.

For the city’s 1 percent income tax, $759,410 had been received so far this year through Feb. 28, which is an increase of $51,348 or 7.25 percent over the amount received at the same time last year.

In other business, council gave final approval for an ordinance cleaning up language regarding the expansion of parking lots, allowing expansion for parking on up to 50 percent of a lot instead of limiting parking expansion to only an adjacent lot. The change had been recommended by the Rules & Ordinances Committee and by the city Planning Commission.

Council also approved an ordinance vacating several platted lots and portions of two platted streets on vacant land between Benton Road and the railroad tracks. The streets, known as Ohio Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue, exist on paper only and were never built and the 36 lots in question were part of Salem Heights 4th Addition and weren’t developed. The Planning commission had recommended the vacation.

Mayor John Berlin requested a Finance Committee meeting be scheduled for budgeting for capital projects and regarding personnel. A meeting was set for 6:30 p.m. March 13.

Councilman Dave Nestic also announced plans to schedule meetings of the Economic Development Committee and the Committee of the Whole.

Economic Development will meet for a quarterly update on the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center known as the SOD Center and the Salem Area Industrial Development Center known as SAIDC.

The Committee of the Whole will meet regarding the recent report submitted by the Downtown Salem Technical Advisory Committee regarding plans for downtown revitalization.

The dates of the meetings will be announced. Other meetings announced included the Utilities Commission at 3 p.m. March 12 in the utilities conference room and the anti-graffiti group at 6 p.m. March 12 in city hall council chambers.

The next regular meeting of council will be 7 p.m. March 19.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at