Some, But Not All, Have Responded to Subpoenas for Delinquent City Taxes

By Ryan McSheffrey

Municipal income tax returns continue to trickle in after the City of Oxford sent out more than 1,500 administrative subpoenas in September to delinquent filers.

Oxford’s municipal income tax is a flat 2 percent, assessed on residents and employees who work in Oxford. Only residents are required to file the municipal income tax returns, as all employers in Oxford withhold the municipal income tax from employees’ paychecks. Residents who also work in Oxford are still required to file municipal income tax returns.

Those who have to file are supposed to do so yearly, by April 15.

In 2017, the municipal income tax made up about $9.91 million of Oxford’s budget of $31 million.

Oxford initially mailed 3,108 administrative subpoenas in August, requesting filings from those who were delinquent, asking residents to file any municipal income tax returns they missed for the period of 2012 to 2016.

Those subpoenaed could then fax, mail, or file online to satisfy the request. Assistant City Finance Director Heidi Hill said the majority of those subpoenaed had already had the taxes withheld, but just didn’t file.

The city saw good success with the first round of mailings, and cut the number of subpoenas sent out in the September round down to 1,519.

Those subpoenaed were again welcomed to fulfill that requirement via the aforementioned options, and were ordered to appear at the Oxford Municipal Building at 15 S. College Ave. on October 2 or 3 if they did not.

About 95 people showed up, Hill said. They met with state Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) officers and reviewed their income tax returns.

The agents helped residents who were missing tax returns file on computers, Hill said.

“I believe it was a successful program. We had a lot of people come in,” Hill said. She said many of the people who came in, in answer to the subpoenas were either new to the area and did not realize the returns were required, or had just become of age and did not understand the requirement.

The point of the program is not so much the amount of money that is owed—Hill estimated the subpoenas so far have brought in about $25,000—but rather an issue of fairness. Everyone is expected to pay their taxes.

“Education is the primary focus. We want our citizens to know that there is an income tax requirement in the City of Oxford,” Hill said.

Hill said Thursday that the returns continue to be submitted, and are assessed late fees.

The Finance Department’s next step could be to ask City Council to pass a resolution allowing the filing of small claims against the municipal income tax holdouts. That decision will come in June, Hill said.

The Finance Department did not request such a resolution in 2013 after the last time the city used the subpoena process to collect unfiled returns.

Residents can file their municipal income tax returns, due April 15, online, or by printing and mailing paper forms.