County mulls credit cards for homes in foreclosure

Otsego County officials are looking at new ways to help financially-distressed property owners keep the tax foreclosure wolf away from their doors.

The county’s annual tax auction in 2014 left county government mired in three lawsuits filed by property owners who objected to the fact their houses were sold under the gavel to the highest bidder, causing them to lose all equity and leave the county with the profit.

While the latest discussions do not involve extending the payment deadline up to the time of the auction, the plan under consideration would give all taxpayers a new option: paying their tax bills by credit card.

Under New York’s General Municipal Law, local governments are allowed to accept credit and debit card payments for fees, fines, taxes and other charges, according to the state Comptroller’s office in Albany.

Critics of the county’s firm adherence to deadlines for delinquent tax payments have contended that the goal of tax enforcement should be to simply get the tax bills collected — not to have the county reap a major profit at the expense of someone losing his or her house.

Read on.

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