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It's an unusual type of real-estate "loan."
No application or screening is required. Acceptance is guaranteed, regardless of amount. The cost is reasonable: a 1 percent fee if paid back in 60 days. After that, another 1.5 percent fee is assessed and interest starts accruing currently at 7 percent annual interest.
These are the terms set by state law for what counties in Utah charge for late property taxes. And many businesses especially real-estate developers are taking advantage of what are essentially easy-to-obtain, short-term loans that are relatively inexpensive.
In fact, the Wasatch Front's 100 largest property tax delinquents in 2016 included 66 developers, according to The Salt Lake Tribune's analysis of tax delinquency lists released last week for Salt Lake, Utah, Davis and Weber counties. The four counties are home to 71 percent of the state's population of 3 million.
"There are developers who use it as a business strategy," said Salt Lake County Treasurer Wayne Cushing, who is in charge of collecting property taxes in his county. "It's cheaper and less of a hassle to borrow it from the county than from a bank."
Utah County Treasurer Kim Jackson adds that developers are the largest group of property tax delinquents every year. "It apparently helps them with cash flow" by delaying payment of taxes until their property is sold.
But it can be a gamble. If all taxes, penalties and interest are not paid within five years, by law the property is seized and sold at auction to collect back taxes.
Cushing doesn't much like the game played by thousands of property owners along the Wasatch Front.
"The better the collection rate, the lower the taxes are next year," he said. "If 97 percent of the people are paying property tax on time, you don't want them hurt because someone else is not paying on time" and forcing higher taxes the next year to help cover it.
In the long run, because of eventual collections and tax sales, counties come out fine financially, he said, as long as too many don't skip on-time tax payments.
Cushing said the penalties and 7 percent interest currently charged by formulas in law (last increased by the Legislature in 2010) are actually more than the 1 to 1.5 percent interest that counties typically earn on other investments.
Delinquencies in 2016 were the lowest in recent memory, Cushing said: about $50 million in Salt Lake County, down from $70 million in 2011 as the Great Recession was winding down and many businesses were struggling.
Total 2016 delinquencies along the Wasatch Front were about $80 million, which lower tax distributions to local governments ranging from school districts to water districts, cities and counties.
Politicians on list • Among the many developers showing up on the tax 2016 delinquency lists was Destination Homes which happens to be owned by newly elected Utah House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville.
Destination Homes missed the tax deadline for $9,395 owed on nine parcels in Davis and Salt Lake counties, a relatively small amount among developers.
Wilson wrote in an email that those properties "are new homes under construction waiting for the home to be finished and closed by the buyer" before the taxes are paid. "Our normal construction cycle is 120 days."
The lawmaker-developer also appeared on the Davis County delinquency list for a new home that he and his wife just bought, showing they were late on $2,066 in taxes.
"It's a new home we just built and moved into. The mortgage company closed the loan [Dec. 26], and it funded [Dec. 27]," he wrote. "It was a timing issue, nothing more or less."
Only one other prominent politician popped up on the 2016 tax delinquency lists: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
He was late on a mere $53 owed on 19 acres of undeveloped land in Utah County co-owned with Lowell and Judy Summerhays. His office said the payment was late, but has been made now, because of problems with tax notice addresses.
"The notices were going to an old address of the person who takes care of this for the senator," said his press secretary, Matt Whitlock. He added that notices also were not sent to a backup address.
"The senator or his accountant who does his taxes were not aware this was pending. The address has been corrected and it has been paid in full," Whitlock said.
Biggest delinquents • Some of the biggest tax delinquents gave a variety of explanations, from checks lost in the mail to problems caused by the timing of new building sales.
Questar Gas was No. 1 on the list, late with $2.47 million owed on 95 parcels in Utah County. Spokesman Don Porter said the company sent a check for that amount to the county on Nov. 29, a day before the Nov. 30 deadline.
The county said it never received payment, Porter said, "So it was lost in transit." Questar has sent a replacement check, he added.
The University of Utah was No. 2 on the list, for $988,508 mostly owed on properties in its Research Park. Nearly $871,000 of that was for a new office building for the BioFire molecular diagnostic company with an assessed value of $57.5 million.
University spokeswoman Annalisa Purser said the late payment came because of confusion over where to send tax notices as the building was being finished about the same time that taxes came due.
"The folks at BioFire just moved into the building a week ago. The University of Utah has been working with the county and BioFire to straighten out the address change and invoicing," she wrote in an email.
Another building in the university's Research Park was No. 3 on the delinquency list: $507,642 owed on a laboratory building used by Teva Corp. The owner listed on property records is Watson Laboratories. Company officials did not respond to Tribune inquiries about the bill.
Other big names • Some other well-known business and commercial names are sprinkled through the delinquency lists, including two downtown Salt Lake City hotels among the top 10.
Property owned by HPTWN Properties that is home to the Radisson Salt Lake, 215 W. South Temple, was No. 5 on the list with $334,624 in late taxes. And property owned by Urban Salt Lake Hotel that is home to the DoubleTree Suites, 110 W. 600 South, is No. 6 on the list with $301,343 in late taxes.
Some other big names on the delinquency lists, and the amounts they owe, include:
No. 7 on the 2016 list is Springville property owned by TEM Properties, which is home to the SupraNaturals dietary supplements company, $267,854.
No. 9 on the list was property for the Freedom Preparatory Academy middle school in Provo, $219,486. The owner is listed as Provo School Development.
Syracuse Family Fun Center, $150,132.
High Point Shopping Center in Sandy, which includes a Macey's food store, $85,100.
Soccer City indoor sports complex in Draper, $81,113.
Property owned by Parkway Lodging Associates that is home to the Courtyard Marriott, 1600 Freedom Boulevard in Provo, $81,105.
Riverbend Sports Complex in Salt Lake City, $80,750.
Property that is home to the Seven Peaks Waterpark in Provo, owned by Brighton Place, $76,791.
Redwood Latino Plaza in West Valley City, $71,204.
Sterling Furniture Co. in Sugar House, $70,369.
Baymont Inn and Suites in Murray, on property owned by SLC Hospitality Services, $54,654.
A medical office building on the campus owned by Salt Lake Regional Medical Center at 24 S. 1100 East, $49,650.
Murdock Hyundai of Lindon, $46,103.
The Training Table restaurants, a longtime chain that recently went out of business, $42,932.
Top 2016 property tax delinquents
1. Questar, for 96 parcels in Utah County, $2.47 million.
2. University of Utah, mostly for new Research Park building for BioFire molecular diagnostics, $988,508.
3. Watson Laboratories, for Teva lab in Research Park, $507,642.
4. Action Commercial Park in Provo, $389,033.
5. HPTWN Properties, for Radisson Salt Lake hotel property, $334,624.
6. Urban Salt Lake Hotel, for DoubleTree Inn and Suites property in Salt Lake City, $301,343.
7. TEM Properties, for SupraNaturals building in Springville, $267,854.
8. KFPN Properties, for a Salt Lake City warehouse, $220,940.
9. Provo School Development, for Freedom Preparatory Academy middle school property, $219,486.
10. CHP Layton, for Fairfield Village senior living center properties, $215,460.
Source: Salt Lake Tribune analysis of 2016 tax delinquency lists for Salt Lake, Utah, Davis and Weber counties.