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Taxes should be paid on time

Let’s be clear about one thing: not paying your property taxes on time is not a good thing.

Candidates running for political office have recently offered the same basic reason for being late on property taxes: they can make more by investing that money than they lose in penalties for not paying on time.

That may be true since the penalty on past due taxes accrues at 1 percent monthly. At this point, anyone who hasn’t paid their property taxes will face a 3 percent penalty since they were due in February.

One candidate likened the delayed payment strategy as a loan. But it’s a loan from the government, which is funded by other taxpayers. We’re not sure residents who pay their taxes on time would take such a high view of the strategy.

Could someone take money earmarked for their tax payment and instead invest it and come out ahead? Sure. But most of the candidates who owe taxes owe $5,000 or less. The amount of interest earned on that amount is relatively small so to suggest that it’s a prudent investment strategy is a stretch.

What would happen if everyone took the approach of waiting until the property is about to be lost at a tax sale to pay their taxes? The government would struggle to function, employees might not get paid and critical services might go unfunded. Taxes are the main revenue source for local governments.

Is it illegal to pay your taxes late? No. Is it smart? That’s debatable. Should it disqualify someone from running for office? No. But it’s irresponsible and the people seeking to run the City of Brookhaven should know that.