Syracuse profits by handwriting thousands of late-tax notes

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A city in New York state has found a novel way of motivating residents to pay their back taxes: personal notes handwritten by city officials.

Working with researchers at Syracuse University, Syracuse officials tried an experiment in which they sent thousands of letters with personal messages to residents who owed taxes.

The result was the city collecting nearly $1.5 million more than it predicted traditional methods alone would have brought in. The researchers said they aren’t aware of any other U.S. city using personalized notes to collect taxes.

Collecting late taxes is a big challenge for many cities, which often use computer-generated letters to residents threatening action if the money isn’t paid.

The researchers say they believe their findings could have big applications for other kinds of government services.

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