We recently read an article about a city in New York state that has found an unconventional way of inspiring residents to pay their back taxes: Personal Notes Handwritten y City Officials.
We are not kidding. Do you believe it?!?! The idea apparently stemmed from an experiment on late-tax payments, where the city of Syracuse partnered with scientific researchers at Syracuse University. We hear city officials wrote and signed thousands of notes by hand instead of sending standard legal letters demanding payment by mail.
The result was the city of Syracuse collected over $1 million more than predicted by traditional methods alone would have brought into the city coffers. University researches reportedly estimated that the the personal touch brought in 57 percent more revenue from delinquent property owners than the city could expect from using more traditional letters.
The handwritten notes took a less threatening approach, focusing on steps the residents could take to avoid legal action or late penalties. The notes were all personally addressed to the resident instead of “Dear Property Owner”. Each had a short, handwritten message on the outside of the envelope, as well.
“It’s the kind of positive outcome that occurs when you aren’t afraid to try something new,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh in a statement.
Collecting late taxes is a difficult task for many cities which often use computer-generated letters to residents threatening legal action if the money isn’t paid promptly. Researches mentioned this experiment could have far-reaching implications to a number of different government services. We understand this is a limited experiment in New York, and there are not any other cities int he U.S. currently using this personalized note method to collect taxes.
Syracuse professor, Leonard Lopoo, said: “These are small, simple changes that can have huge payoffs.
The behavioral research center lab at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School managing director, Joe Boskovski, called the experiment common sense, saying treating people as humans can yield results.
Who knew — the power of the pen we all possess at our fingertips?!?!?!?!