“Homes for the taking” [front page, Sept. 8-10], The Post’s series on property tax sales, was a misleading portrayal of how property tax liabilities are handled by the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR). All sales of properties for a few hundred dollars, the focus of The Post’s reports, occurred no later than 2007 and simply do not happen today. Since 2008, the OTR has had a policy to prevent such sales.
When I became deputy chief financial officer of the OTR in 2008, I implemented, with approval from Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, a tax sale threshold of $1,000. That threshold is set before each tax sale. While it has been both higher and lower in subsequent years, it has been at $1,000 for the past two years and has had the effect of treating homeowners fairly while improving operational efficiencies.
In “Suspicious bids by half-dozen buyers go unnoticed” [front page, Sept. 9], The Post suggested that a conspiracy might have been at work in bidding on tax sale properties in the District from 2005 to 2007. The assertion of “irregular bidding,” however, was based on a comparison to bidding patterns uncovered in a criminal case in Maryland, which has a very different tax sale system. If such a conspiracy existed in the District, the FBI and other law enforcement authorities would have investigated the District’s tax sales or, at the very least, notified the OTR of their suspicions.
Finally, it is OTR policy to administer the city’s tax laws as humanely as possible within the constraints of law. We are working with the mayor’s office and the Council to draft legislation to improve the tax laws further .
Stephen M. Cordi, Washington
The writer is the District’s deputy chief financial officer.