Unpaid property taxes hit localities

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans not paying their property taxes amid the recession and the brutal housing collapse has increased sharply — more than doubling in some parts of the country.

At a time when the nation’s housing crisis has put millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes through bank foreclosure, a growing pile of unpaid bills has put tens of thousands more in danger of losing them to tax seizures. That has caused multimillion-dollar shortfalls for some already-struggling local governments that rely on property taxes to pay for everything from schools to police.

Because property taxes are almost always collected locally, there is no single national measure of just how many people have fallen behind. But tax collectors and treasures in communities across the country say they’ve seen a sharp jump in the number of delinquent homeowners and businesses as the nation’s unemployment rate grew. They’re bracing for even more unpaid bills ahead.


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