>I would certainly (and I believe we did once or twice) consider abating
>taxes in the case of an act of nature -- for example, a family losing their
>house to fire -- but I'd have to agree with Chuck that hard-nosedness is a


Rob:  Here is a "hard-nose" response. If a persons house burns
down on March 30, you will not tax it.  If they build it back on
April 2, you will not tax it.  You do not tax any construction
during a year until April 1 of the next year.  Therefore,
why should you abate the taxes for a house fire?
(Actually, I would consider this if a family moved out of
town due to the fire... I have had this request from a family
that stayed in town, in rental housing, and kept sending their
kids to school!!)

Incidentally, under South Burlington City Charter the City charges
a 8% late fee on tax payments. Also under the Charter, the City
Manager ONLY has the right to waive these decision is
non-appealable to Council or court.  My sole defined criteria
is "the taxpayer was unable to pay due to circumstances beyond
their control."  I could write a book about the special
circumstances that have happened to taxpayers.  I get the
most bizarre and funny excuses for being late (along with a
few reasonable requests.)  How about the secretary who was
responsible to mail the check on the 15th, went into labor on
the night of the 14th, and asked the nurses to remind her
husband to mail the check but they forget to tell him.

You make the call.

Or the taxpayer who had to leave town suddenly for a grandmothers
funeral in Ohio.  The day after I granted the waiver I read in the
sports section of the Free-Press that he had won a stock car race
in South Carolina the same weekend!! ( We straightened that out.)