Maplewood no longer accepting partial property tax payments

Maplewood Municipal Building

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Maplewood is no longer accepting partial property tax payments, a change in policy that comes after South Orange voted in June to allow its tax collector, Aderonke Zaccheus, also serve as Maplewood’s tax collector. Payments may now only be paid for each quarter in lump payments by Feb. 1, May 1, Aug. 1 and Nov. 1.

“We have recently hired a new tax collector,” Sonia Alves-Viveiros, Maplewood’s business administrator, told the News-Record in an Aug. 16 email. “Given her professional advice regarding best practices for tax collection, partial payments should no longer be accepted, but rather in full.”

Zaccheus, who now serves as the tax collector in both Maplewood and South Orange, will be doing so at least through 2019, according to South Orange Village President Sheena Collum at the June 11 South Orange Board of Trustees meeting.

“The township of Maplewood has a temporary vacancy that they are intending to fill by a new CFO who is receiving their certification,” Collum said at the meeting. “For the interim, they are asking for a shared services agreement which we are calling a contract for services.”

Collum also said at the meeting that Maplewood may or may not hire its own tax collector in the future. Regardless, at the moment the township is not accepting partial payments, although it did so for many years.

“I’m not sure why Maplewood would or would not accept partial payments,” Morris Davis, a professor at the Rutgers University School of Business and the academic director of the Center for Real Estate, said in an email to the News-Record on Aug. 16. “Partial payments seems like financing to me.”

Kevin Riordan, the executive director of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate, agreed that partial payments “finance a portion of the owner’s tax liability.”

“The mortgage-servicing system for residential and commercial mortgages is predicated on a quarterly pay to the municipalities,” Riordan said in an email to the News-Record on Aug. 16. “I think a simple reason may be it is just easier to account for four pays per year versus 12.”

The payment schedule could potentially create problems for residents who have a limited income and are not able to pay taxes all at one time.

“That has definitely been a problem in New Jersey,” Riordan said about property taxes. “Given the increases in property taxes, they take up a bigger portion of lower incomes. As that happens, more homes are at risk of being lost by homeowners for delinquent taxes.”

Zaccheus did not return multiple requests for comment. Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca directed questions to Alves-Viveiros, who said residents who need to make partial payments could possibly make arrangements to do so with Zaccheus.

“It’s a case-by-case basis,” she said in a phone interview with the News-Record on Aug. 20. “If necessary, they can make those arrangements with the tax collector.”

Photo by Amanda Valentovic