Delinquent taxes should appear in newspapers

Today, for the second time in two weeks, the Tribune Chronicle is publishing a list of unpaid property taxes in Trumbull County.

Law-abiding residents who pay their taxes to support local government operations have every right to know who, in their community, is falling short of their tax responsibilities. But if some Ohio lawmakers have their way, a state law that requires county governments to publish this information two times in Ohio’s local newspapers may be rescinded.

Publication of this list, which also was printed Nov. 8 in the Tribune Chronicle, effectively urges those who are behind on their taxes to get caught up. We know this because here at the Tribune Chronicle, we take the time to amend and update the list between the first and second publication, removing the names of those who have become current on their property tax bills.

That’s why readers who closely inspect the list in today’s newspaper will see that it is more than a dozen inches shorter than the list that ran last week.

When delinquent taxpayers find out their names are listed in the newspaper, they generally act quickly to pay up. Due largely to the publication, counties collect needed revenue and the lists shrink in size, sometimes dramatically, between the first and second publication of the lists.

Still, there are thousands of delinquencies listed on page after page of today’s newspaper. That tells us there still is work to be done to both urge payment and raise the ire of those residents who pay their taxes on time.

Listing the delinquencies on a government web site that receives far fewer visitors — an option some legislators have considered — than the print and digital pages of your daily newspaper is, unquestionably, far less effective.

Of course, the public also has a general interest in seeing these notices.

These lists cause many delinquent taxpayers to “pay up,” and the legislature should think twice before considering the removal of this requirement.