A compassionate gesture would be appreciated now

Today is the deadline for paying county and most municipal taxes within the discount period.

The savings on most tax bills do not amount to much to some people, but to those who live frugally, it is a goal worth achieving. If they have a mortgage and escrow account to cover the bill, it’s doable.

But that’s not everyone.

It’s easy to imagine in this day of shuttered businesses and record unemployment that there are a fair number of people without escrow accounts who have saved throughout the year for this day. And then eight weeks ago they suddenly found themselves having to tap into their resources to cover the costs of basic food and shelter.

So the money may not be there today.

“People are struggling,” Kimberly Alexander, Clinton Township tax collector, recently observed.

In closing business, the state government allowed individual local government bodies to extend their tax collection deadlines.

Some, including the City of Williamsport, took advantage of that.

Others, including Lycoming County government, did not.

Still others, such as Old Lycoming Township, may have extended their deadlines, were it not for the fact that their tax collections are tied to the county. Tax collector Dave Frey noted that his township and the county real estate taxes appear on the same bill. To separate them now would have complicated matters, he said.

The next deadline to pay taxes — June 30 — is a mere two months away.

While the state plans to gradually reopen, it’s going to take time. We would like to see business bounce back and people return to work in big numbers, but are quite dubious that it will happen before the tax deadline.

In the meantime, we should do whatever is possible to support those who must stretch to get through lean times.

It’s not too late for the county to extend the tax deadline, acknowledging that it’s not just the county burden to consider here — it’s the tax burden of many municipalities for whom the county also handles collections.

It would be a compassionate gesture in this time of crisis.


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