Syracuse Tax Experiment Pays Off Big

by | Nov 26, 2018


Syracuse Tax Experiment Pays Off BigOfficials in New York have found a way to get some of its money back, and all it took was a personal touch.

In an experiment between the city of Syracuse and Syracuse University, city officials hand wrote thousands of notes to residents who owed back taxes.

Instead of the standard legal letters demanding payment the notes took a less threatening approach, focusing on steps people could take to avoid penalties or legal action. Instead of being addressed “Dear property owner,” each letter was personally addressed and there was a brief handwritten message on the envelope as well.

And the extra attention to detail seems to be paying off. The city collected $1.5 million dollars more than it predicted the traditional method would have brought in.

The University also estimates the personal approach brought in 57% more revenue than the standard letters. The researchers say the letter writing experiment was a small, simple change that can have a big payoff and can be used by cities across the country.

The pen seems to be mightier than machine-driven threats.

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Brian Banmiller

About Brian

CBS News Radio national business journalist Brian Banmiller has spent more than 40 years in the news industry, covering business, politics and the economy on television, radio and in print. Currently, his “Banmiller on Business” reports are delivered to an audience of millions nationwide.

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