Fairfield’s top tax delinquents are repeat offenders

FAIRFIELD — The top 10 property tax delinquents in Fairfield owe more than $2.1 million, according to town records.

When looking at those who owe the most in tax bills to the town, several are for properties that are part of deceased people’s estates, while other owners are real estate companies.

999 Merwins Lane is the property with the most owed in taxes — at $269,585 owed for six years of taxes, liens and interest on a single-family property valued at approximately $1.1 million.

David Kluczwski, Fairfield’s tax collector, said most of the properties on the delinquent list are residential, and do not have a mortgage.

1. 999 Merwins Lane: $269,585.15 owed for six years;* property valued at $1,100,400

2. 561 Reef Road: $255,906.91 owed for 14 years;* property valued at $386,610

3. 46 Linley Drive: $248,701.92 owed for 15 years;* property valued at $350,000

4. 190 Fairchild Avenue: $230,648.31 owed for 11 years;* property valued at $467,040

5. 65 Benson Place: $225,001.07 owed for eight years;* property valued at $654,920

6. 150 Orchard Hill Lane: $194,467.98 owed for 11 years;* property valued at $380,450

7. 160 Henderson Road: $176,848.03 owed for 10 years;* property valued at $431,270

8. 1521 Congress Street: $176,613.90 owed for 10 years;* property valued at $206,150

9. 168 Kings Drive: $172,183.56 owed for 10 years;* property valued at $368,410

10. 1791 and 1773 Fairfield Beach Road: $169,325.37 owed for two years;* properties valued at a total $3,299,660

*The amount of taxes owed includes taxes, liens and interest.

Source: Town of Fairfield Tax Collector’s Office


“It could be a situation where a property was in an estate and one of the children inherited the property,” he said. “But, it’s more likely than not that there’s no mortgage… because the banks are not going to allow it to go delinquent like this. They’re going to take action on their end.”

The vast majority of the property tax delinquents on the top 10 list come from multiple years of missed taxes. For instance, the single-family property at 561 Reef Road owes $255,906 for 14 years of taxes, liens and interest on a property valued at $386,610. Seven out of 10 on the list are properties that have not paid taxes in more than 10 years.

None of the tax delinquents on the list could be reached for comment.

Kluczwski said the town has multiple approaches to addressing unpaid taxes, although it does not use most of them because Fairfield is not in dire financial straits.

“It doesn’t mean they don’t owe it,” he said. “It doesn’t mean they’re off the hook. They still owe the full balance. The interest still accrues. The liens still apply. There’s no favors. There’s no nothing in that regard. They have more time. We are not going after people. We’re trying to work with them, because we have that luxury because we’re not like a city that is only collecting 95 or 96 percent of their grand list.”

Speaking to the options available to the town, Kluczwski said it could do a lien assignment, a tax sale auction or traditional foreclosure through the court system. He noted that the data provided to Hearst Connecticut Media is from the 2020 grand list, of which the taxes came due in July 2021.

When the town assigns a lien, a third party company buys the debt, pays the town what is owed and then acts as the tax collector. He said the town is not currently using that option.

“Even though we’re not using that enforcement right now, it doesn’t mean we won’t in the future. It’s just that the town has not expressed an interest in doing it at this moment,” he said, adding the town is being more lenient because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, Kluczwski said, the town files a municipal lien every year on delinquent properties, which helps ensure that if it gets sold the town will get paid in full when the ownership transfers. He said those taxes are the responsibility of the previous owner, so those delinquent taxes often get paid from the proceeds of the sale.

Kluczwski said a tax sale is when the town sells a property because of its delinquent taxes. He said the town has not used the tax sale or foreclosure option in the five years he has worked in the role, although it did do a tax sale in 2012. Even if a house was sold in a tax sale auction, Kluczwski said, there is a six month period where the property owner has the option to pay the taxes to prevent the sale from being finalized.

“I don’t know how many properties were in it, but I do know that they all got redeemed before they got to the actual action,” he said of the 2012 sale. “There’s usually a six month window where (the property owner) receives a series of notices warning them of what is going to happen.”

Kluczwski noted that the town cannot cut deals with people in tax delinquency, adding that interest accrues at 18 percent a year.

“We can never waive or reduce that interest,” he said. “The law forces me to charge them in full.”

The interest can really add up over time, Kluczwski said, and so he advises people to pay as much as they can. He said he is always willing to work with people within the constructs of the law.

joshua.labella@hearstmediact.com

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