District of Columbia tax officials will be asked to suggest ways to dispose of about 500 small and oddly shaped lots that have been carried for decades on the city's delinquent tax rolls, D.C. City Council member John A. Wilson said yesterday.
Wilson (D-Ward2), chairman of the Council's Finance and Revenue Committee, said he looked at some of the lots after learning of their existence from a story yesterday in The Washington Post.
The story reported that the city cannot find buyers willing to pay all the back taxes and penalties - as an 1898 law requires - for properties with little or no apparent usefulness. One such lot, less than two feelt wide and 140 feet deep, would cost nearly $2,000 to acquire.
Wilson said he would ask the city's Department of Finance and Revenue for a report on the lots, why they exist and the way the city might dispose of them.
Many were the result of surveying errors ywars ago, departmental officials said. Under existing law, all properties are held in the names of their last known owners, many of whom have been dead for decades.
Donald R. Beach, the city' chief tax assessor, told a reported he would favour a method used widely around the country under which the city could take title to delinquent properties after a period of time and offer to sell them to adjacent property owners for whatever price they may bring. Properties nobody would take, or which run alongside alleys or streets, would became public property.
The 1898 law that governs the tax-delinquent property was passed by Congress, which then had lawmaking power for the District. That power was transferred to the council when the city got limited home rule in 1975.