Treasurer hosts taxpayer assistance meetings

By: Kayla Dimick | C&G Newspapers | Published November 22, 2019

 Taxpayers who may have fallen behind on their payments were invited to a meeting Nov. 21 hosted by Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner inside the Southfield Pavilion.

Taxpayers who may have fallen behind on their payments were invited to a meeting Nov. 21 hosted by Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner inside the Southfield Pavilion.

Photo by Deb Jacques

OAKLAND COUNTY — If you’re having issues paying your property taxes, there is help available.

Through December, Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner is hosting Community Taxpayer Assistance Meetings, which are one-on-one, face-to-face meetings with taxpayers to discuss delinquent property taxes.

On Nov. 21, Meisner hosted the third of six such meetings in the Marcotte Room inside the Southfield Pavilion.

Officials said the program focuses on residences and operating businesses, and the goal is to assist those facing financial hardship.

Chief Deputy Treasurer Jody DeFoe said the on-site staff works to keep the meetings professional and nonthreatening.

“Unfortunately, when they come to the courthouse, they have to go through security, and that’s one of the reasons we started coming out into communities, because it’s a little less intimidating than coming all the way to the courthouse,” DeFoe said. “I think sometimes people are scared or overwhelmed to address the situation. I want people to know that we are friendly and kind and open and not here to judge. Just here to listen and try to help.”

Deputies on-site authorize repayment schedules and apply for grants to pay delinquent taxes or provide referrals to financial coaches, volunteer attorneys and CPAs.

“There’s a ton of resources, and a lot of times people just don’t know where to go, so we try to provide that service of directing them to the right department with the right phone number and whatever resources might fit their situation,” DeFoe said. “With the end goal to try to free up money or find money in their budget to help them pay their property taxes and help them get out of tax foreclosure.”

Meisner said in a written statement that Michigan law requires the county treasurer to recover unpaid property taxes.

“Although the economic outlook for Oakland County is strong, there are families in our communities who are suffering from poverty, underemployment and high debts,” Meisner said in the statement. “Community (Taxpayer Assistance Meetings) follow a broader mission to recover delinquent taxes, keep families in their homes and businesses operating, and bring government to the people in an accessible way,” said Meisner.

If residents missed any of the previous meetings, officials said they are welcome to attend the upcoming meetings, which will be held 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, 1-7 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Wixom Public Library, and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Hazel Park Public Library.

Officials said taxpayers are required to pre-register online at octreasurer.youcanbook.me or by calling (248) 858-0611.

Beginning in January 2020, daily appointments will be available at the Oakland County Treasurer’s Office in Pontiac.

Meisner’s office will also host “Walk-In Wednesdays,” which will allow taxpayers without a pre-scheduled appointment to meet with deputies 9-11:30 a.m. and 2-3:30 p.m. Wednesdays in January and February 2020.

Taxpayers are required to bring photo identification and proof of income or tax returns.

For more information, go to www.oakgov.com/treasurer. To speak with a counselor or to schedule a taxpayer assistance meeting, call (248) 858-0611.