Nhamp. Commissioners deny tax appeals

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2005

JACKSON – The North Carolina Department of Revenue has placed its stamp of approval on the tax forms used in Northampton County.

Much to the dismay of four Northampton County citizens who made appeals during the last Northampton County Commissioners meeting to have $544.03 worth of collective tax penalties released, the Northampton County Board Equalization and Review voted to deny their request, here Tuesday.

Since citizens’ requests fell short of meeting the dictated criteria (an imposed tax through clerical error, an illegal tax or a tax levied for an illegal purpose), Commissioners had no choice but to make the unpopular decision.

The last time the Board of Equalization and Review convened, citizens asked Commissioners to repeal tax penalties they’d incurred as a result of incorrectly filling out information on the county’s property listing abstract.

&uot;I think for between 400-500 people to have misunderstood the form shows there is something wrong with the form and I don’t think it’s fair to penalize them for not understanding the form,&uot; said Henrico resident Margaret Johnson at the previous meeting.

According to Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins, the county sent the tax form, which had been touted as &uot;ambiguous&uot; by citizens in the last meeting, to the North Carolina Department of Revenue for review.

The evaluation came back without recommendation for a change.

&uot;The Department of Revenue said the form met the intent of the law, so they did not make any recommendations to change it,&uot; said Jenkins.

Of the 2,282 Northampton County citizens who owned watercraft, Jenkins stated that 1,696 had listed them correctly on the form translating to 74 percent of citizens who knew they were supposed to register.

&uot;In my opinion those statistics indicate that the form is simple, easy to understand and in keeping with the standard of the law,&uot; Jenkins said, adding that of the 583 remaining individuals on which discovery was employed, 60 percent had already paid both the taxes and penalties due.

In its discovery process, the Tax Department cross referenced its list of registered and unregistered personal watercraft vehicles with a list made available to them through the Department of Revenue and sent letters to residents who failed to report taxable properties.

&uot;The law allows tax collection on from the date of purchase, but limits that collection to tax on the current year plus five years back,&uot; said Northampton County Tax Administrator Cathy Allen, who added that the discoveries were not limited to personal watercraft vehicles, but included properties such as mobile homes.

That means tax violators are required to pay 10 percent of the amount owed for the current year including fees, plus an additional 10 percent each year that taxes have not been paid dating back five years.

Commissioner Fannie Greene, who motioned to table the issue at the last meeting, stated that she had to concur with the Tax Office’s recommendation to deny the request for release or refund of the ad valorem tax appeals of penalties based on the state’s General Statute and the findings.