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Tax Relief Program for Westport Taxpayers Impacted by COVID-19

Post Date:04/23/2020 1:30 PM

First Selectman Jim Marpe announced today that last evening, the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) approved the administration’s proposed tax relief deferment program.  Under Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7S, issued on April 1, 2020, the Town of Westport is authorized to provide a tax deferment program to Westport taxpayers.

Mr. Marpe said, “Many Westporters facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, individuals and businesses alike, need relief. Since the time of the Executive Order on April 1, many Town officials have worked exhaustively to accurately present the most appropriate and financially sound tax relief program recommendation. I want to thank the members of the RTM for performing their due diligence on behalf of their constituents and for the quick action in approving the recommended deferment program within the prescribed deadline. I sincerely appreciate all those who researched, analyzed and championed this program. Now, we will work together to manage the tax deferment program that will provide much needed relief for eligible taxpayers.”

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 April, 2020 and July, 2020 tax bills on real estate, personal property, motor vehicles and sewer assessments so that payments made anytime 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:

  1. Household has suffered a reduction in income of at least 20 percent due to COVID-19.
  2. Business or nonprofit revenue from March, 2020 to June, 2020 is expected to be reduced by at least 30 percent compared to the same time last year.
  3. For landlords: Income is significantly reduced.
    1. Landlords can also provide proof of commensurate forbearance programs offered to their own tenants to be eligible. For example:
      1. Deferment of 25 percent of rent for three months to tenants;
      2. A deferment of rent to be paid over three months; or
      3. 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 May 22, 2020 to submit their requests without incurring a penalty on their unpaid April 1, 2020 taxes.  Applicants will have until July 1, 2020 to submit their requests without incurring a penalty on their unpaid July 1, 2020 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 July 1, 2020 to make their April, 2020 installment payment.  If payment is not received by July 2, 2020 interest will accrue retroactively starting July 2, 2020.  Taxpayers have until October 1, 2020 to make their July, 2020 installment payment.  If payment is not received by October 2, 2020, interest will accrue retroactively starting October 2, 2020.

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 April’s taxes are not paid by the July 1, 2020 and October 1, 2020 deadlines, 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. 

Because Town Hall offices are closed to the public and operating for essential services only with reduced staffing, dedicated call lines have been set up. For questions about residential and business tax deferral, please call 203-341-1071 and for commercial tax deferrals please call 203-341-1147, and email TaxRelief@WestportCT.Gov have been set up to answer basic questions.

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