Not a ‘sweet deal’: County getting taxes owed

For three consecutive years, the nonprofit organization Maui Tomorrow forgot to file its 990 forms with the state as required by law. The state attorney general’s office took notice of this in 2013 and sent Maui Tomorrow correspondence saying it owed a total of $3,000, or $1,000 for each year of noncompliance.

Maui Tomorrow never paid those fines after speaking with the attorney general’s office. Why is that? Was it because of some sweetheart deal? Was there a backroom arrangement made in an underground parking lot? Was it a money-exchanged, favors-made sort of thing?

Of course not. The answer is that Maui Tomorrow’s executive director contacted the state and simply begged for forgiveness because she knew the group had made a mistake. The attorney general’s office gave Maui Tomorrow a break so long as it filed all the missing documents, which it did in February, April and May 2013.

No harm no foul, as they say.

In general, when taxpayers are not in compliance, government officials, whether they are county, state or federal, have to work with them to help bring them into compliance. Paying taxes is voluntary, after all, and the government does not have the resources to go after everybody to force them to pay.

Arrangements are made all the time to bring people and organizations into compliance and this was certainly the case with the attorney general’s office and Maui Tomorrow.

So, it perplexes me that Maui Tomorrow’s executive director (Viewpoint, June 30) would accuse the County of Maui of giving a “sweet deal” to the developer of the Maui Medical Plaza. Especially since, unlike the state’s arrangement with Maui Tomorrow, the county is actually collecting the money owed.

In this case, the developer of the Maui Medical Plaza project owes the county $119,942 in delinquent property taxes. So far, he has put a down payment of $30,297 and made another payment of $9,089 on June 20. He told The Maui News in a June 12 article that “his aim is to pay off what’s owed to the county by the end of the year.”

My question is: Why wouldn’t the county enter into a financial arrangement with the developer? He owes more than $100,000.

Doesn’t the county have a fiscal responsibility to collect property taxes owed to it?

What the Viewpoint writer failed to mention is that just this year alone the Department of Finance has approved 85 payment arrangements with other parcel owners who had fallen delinquent on property tax payments. Of those 85, only two fell into the above $100,000 threshold. I know that the Viewpoint writer knows this because I helped her look up this information.

Whether the Maui Medical Plaza is built or not is of no concern to the Department of Finance. No matter what, the county will be going after the property taxes owed.

If Maui Tomorrow wants to stop the Maui Medical Plaza from being built, it is certainly welcome to try to do so. In the meantime, the county will continue to collect back taxes from the developer until he is paid in full.

Even if Maui Tomorrow stops the project, the county will still be collecting back taxes from the developer until he is paid in full. Maui Tomorrow is lucky the state did not require the same of it when it forgot to file financial information as required by law? Was that a “sweet deal” as well?

* Rod Antone is the Maui County communications director.