Audit nets additional revenue

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2005

WINTON – The plan is working.

Last year, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners agreed to a plan that allowed a private firm to performed a tax audit on businesses within the county.

To date, that plan has netted the county an additional $50,000 in tax revenue.

According to Hertford County Tax Assessor Judy Vinson, there was some grumbling from business owners when the plan was first put into place. However, finding additional tax revenues is not the only purpose of the audit, said Vinson.

&uot;Part of the program is educating business owners of how to properly list their property and business-related items,&uot; Vinson noted. &uot;It’s not all about collecting taxes that are due to the county.&uot;

Vinson stated that nearly all of the taxes caught by the audit were simply an oversight by the business owners. She said most owners had not properly listed new or updated equipment.

&uot;That’s why the educational portion of this plan is so vital,&uot; said Vinson.

On Monday morning, Vinson gave a report to the Commissioners concerning the updated collections made by Tax Management Associates (TMA), the firm hired by the county to perform the business property audit.

Vinson said, since April of last year, TMA had completed 208 audits. Those audits discovered a shade over $77,000 in additional tax revenue for the county. Through a contract agreement with the county, TMA is paid 35 percent of any new tax revenue they discover. That means TMA stands to gain over $27,000 for their work, which is still ongoing.

The trade-off ($50,279 coming into the county’s coffers) is a fair deal, said Vinson.

&uot;If TMA did not find one penny in new tax revenue, then they would not have profited any money for their work,&uot; noted Vinson.

Curtis Freeman, vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners, asked Vinson what guidelines was TMA using in its audit of county businesses. She replied that the guidelines were the same as the ones used by the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

&uot;The county does not set any type of standards in this case,&uot; stressed Vinson. &uot;TMA is using the state standards in this audit.&uot;

She added that businesses have 30 days to file an appeal if the audit showed those owners owe additional taxes.

Following Vinson’s presentation, the Commissioners approved a $70,000 budget amendment to pay for TMA’s contracted services as well as revenues earned from the new disclosures.

TMA’s contract runs through June 30, the end of the current 2004-05 budget year.

&uot;The $70,000 is an approximate figure,&uot; she said. &uot;We have no way of knowing how much more TMA will find in new disclosures by June 30.&uot;