Housing Complex

CFO Spokesman: No Moratorium on Tax Lien Sales Without an Act of Council

Gandhi_N-1Mayor Vince Gray called for a moratorium on tax lien sales this morning, following a Washington Post investigation that found that a handful of investors had gamed D.C.'s system to deprive people of their homes for outstanding tax debts of less than $1,000. But absent a new law by the D.C. Council, his plea won't carry much weight: The Office of the Chief Financial Officer, which oversees the tax sales, has no intention of stopping the practice.

"It’s up to the mayor and the Council to draft and pass legislation," says OCFO spokesman David Umansky. "Whatever they pass—and we’re working with them on it—we will follow the law, as we’ve done consistently."

Umansky says the Post stories neglected to mention a key fact: The most egregious cases, in which people lose their homes over small tax bills, haven't taken place since 2007, when a new policy dictated that tax sales could not take place for debts under $1,000.

"All of the instances cited by the Post happened in the year 2007 or earlier, and that they could not happen today, because of changes made in the system by the Office of Tax and Revenue," Umansky says. "The Post story is talking about things that happened six, seven, eight years ago."

D.C.'s chief financial officer (currently Natwar Gandhi, who intends to retire soon) is appointed by the mayor but operates independently of the mayor's office. "The mayor has his duties, and the CFO has its duties," says Umansky. Absent a new law to change the process for tax lien sales, Umansky says his office will continue to conduct them as it has.

Photo of Natwar Gandhi by Darrow Montgomery

  • Actually

    Didn't OTR stop doing tax sales for under $1k for administrative ease issues, not because it was ripe for p.r. disasters?

  • dcgovcorruption

    The CO office Is a disaster that operates in the midnight.
    This is the same CFO that prevents a business from obtaining
    a clean hands stamp the same day to allow a business to apply
    for a license at DCRA, a policy that started in july of this year .
    You now must wait one to four weeks or longer to obtain online.
    Mr Grand Ghandi needs to leave now.

  • http://citypaper sly

    Umansky sounds arrogant!

  • Terri B.

    I would like to comment regarding David Urmansky's statement that since 2007, properties delinqent under $1,000 could not be auctioned off. Mr. Urmansky's statement is incorrect. Clearly the D.C. Register, Title 9 of the DC Municipal Regulations, Section 317, states that properties owing at least $800 would be advertised and sold at the 2010 tax sale auction; for properties owing $500 would be advertised in the 2011 tax sale auction.

    Properties owing $200.00 or more were auctioned off in July 2013. Check the amount owed column(2013 tax sale list: http://otr.cfo.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/otr/publication/attachments/2013TaxSaleNewspaper.pdf.

    And while Stephen Cordi, deputy chief financial officer of the D.C. Office of Tax & Revenue (OTR) and Dr. Natwar Gandhi try to collect back taxes of a few hundred dollars from low income, disabled, senior homeowners, last year, without any hesitation their office, the OTR, graciously reduced commerical property assessments by $2.6 Billion.

    There was a turnover in staff in the Harriet Walter's scandal, and there needs to be another now. The first to go immediately? Stephen Cordi and Dr. Gandhi. I would be happy to help pack their bags.

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  • RealDC

    What a bunch smug jerks...Gandhi is asleep at the wheel, has been for a awhile. GOOD RIDDANCE!!

    Cordi- does he even live in DC? An out of touch overseer monkey who is just doing the bidding of the crooks that make out like fat rats off of DC government.

    Umansky- does he live in DC? Just another a hole monkey getting away with a DC salary and screwing the people over.

    There is no accountability at OTR!!!

  • justsayin

    There is no accountability at OTR and no oversight from the council's Finance & Revenue Committee (2 of whom have declared their candidacy for mayor), which is duly charged with knowing what the hell is going on before we all read it in the press. The mayor and the council can't excuse themselves for not knowing, because OTR has been a runaway train for years, and they chose to not pay attention!!! They don't receive their high salaries to feign ignorance every time their is an embarassing disclosure.

  • justsayin

    I know someone whose incapacitated elderly relative similarly lost her home and he has spent more than 10 years trying to get DC government officials and Del. Norton to investigate the wrongdoing. He finally gave up after being ridiculed and dismissed as being disruptive at ANC meetings, because no one cared to be bothered.

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