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Dalton considers using tax collection agency

A Central Collection Agency representative presented to Dalton Village Council over speakerphone during a meeting March 8. Watch and listen on the Dalton Gazette’s Facebook page. For more information, visit Central Collection Agency’s website at:

DGKN staff report

DALTON  The village will consider an outside agency to administer municipal tax collection services beginning next tax season.

Village council met Monday and heard from a representative over speakerphone from Central Collection Agency. Residents could attend the meeting at Village Hall or view the meeting and ask questions over Facebook Live via The Dalton Gazette & Kidron News.

Central Collection Agency, which is a branch of the City of Cleveland and was the first income tax administration collection agency in Ohio, serves villages and cities across the state.

The switch to the tax agency will have three readings at three separate council meetings so residents will have an opportunity to attend meetings and ask questions over the next few months while council considers approving the agency.

Michelle Jordan with CCA emphasized how customer service is a “key mission” of CCA. Providing assistance and education to taxpayers is important to explain to them, for example, the process, why they might owe money, and how to help with past-due filing and come into compliance.

“Taxes can be intimidating, we know that,” Michelle said, “so our goal is to provide a service that makes the process of filing easier, understanding of requirements greater, and overall experience more positive for residents and businesses alike.”

CCA has a primary location in downtown Cleveland, a branch in Hamilton, and satellite locations are established during tax season. Personalized tax assistance is available. Jordan said that post-COVID, the agency expects to see a return of auditors spending time out in the field in communities they serve during tax season. A variety of times would be available so that taxpayers have the option of sitting down face-to-face with a CCA staff member to have taxes prepared with them, if that’s what the resident prefers.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CCA established a program quickly that has proven to be effective and successful. Taxpayers can complete a short form and send it in with attachments by mailing it in or dropping it off at village hall for CCA to pick up. CCA staff completes the return for them and sends taxpayers a copy along with any notification such as a balance due, overpayment, or if estimates have been set up. CCA will call the taxpayer if they have any questions while working on their forms.

“It’s almost as if they’re sitting across the desk from us … it’s that same one-on-one assistance,” Jordan said.

A call center is available and monitored by tax auditors so that most questions can be answered by the person who takes the call.

Different filing options and methods of payment with no processing fees assessed are available for taxpayers. Tax forms are available on CCA’s website, CCA can be used to eFile and residents can mail forms to CCA. CCA mails reminders to residents about quarterly payments.

The agency performs all functions of collecting taxes, according to its website, including mailing returns, processing all payments, billing taxes due, assessing penalties and interest, issuing refunds, mailing delinquency notices, preparing court cases and distributing the taxes collected to the municipalities. A toll-free number is provided for taxpayers’ use: 800-223-6317.

Jordan addressed a few topics including security. She said protocols are in place to assure secure records and safe retrieval of data when necessary, and CCA follows laws and rules for storing and accessing data, she said. Physical tax documents they receive are stored in locked location only accessible through keycard entry by authorized personnel, she said.

Council President Pat Sword asked about whether there ever has been a security breach in CCA’s history and whether the village would be liable if there were a breach.  Jordan said she has never heard of a security breach and she would find out whether the village would be liable.

In response to a question from someone viewing the meeting over Facebook Live, Fiscal Officer Neena Miller said in 2020 and in 2021, the village was expecting to spend about $20,000 in the tax fund, which includes cost of postage and printing, labor, and subscription to tax program. Based upon this year’s numbers, if the village were to choose CCA, the cost would be approximately $12,600, which would be significantly less, Mayor Dennis Finley noted. Finley also noted a plus to using the outside agency is an added layer of confidentiality and security.

Jordan provided her direct cell phone number and email address for any residents who may have questions about the services CCA provides at 216-857-7382 and Questions also can be asked by calling Village Hall at 330-828-2221.

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