Reaching back to tax

By Chris Lewis | The Shoreline | Vol. 31 No. 47 (February 6 2019)

He did his best, but CBS councilor Darrin Bent couldn’t persuade his colleagues to give a property owner a break on back taxes.

The issue arose at Tuesday’s council meeting when a motion was made to adjust some tax accounts.

One involved a piece of land that was bought by a resident in 2015. That resident has been billed for taxes on the land for three years prior to their ownership, according to Bent.

“The reason I have an issue with this is because the land itself was not on the tax roll, so the land was unknown to the town as a taxable item previously,” Bent explained. “Of course, in a case where a resident purchases land, there’s due diligence with regards to tax certificates and so forth, but in this case, we were not taxing anybody for this land in 2014, 2013, and previous years. Yet when this person has taken over the land, brought it to the tax roll, we’re seeking taxes previous to the roll.”

Bent says he sees a number of issues with this. Specifically, he noted the town would not have been aware of the land had the new landowner not applied to register it, thus there would have been no taxes to collect. Bent argued the taxes should start in 2015, rather than dating back to a time when the land was not on the tax roll.

Bent said this particular situation could deter other landowners from coming forth about their own properties.

“It’s to the benefit of all of us that land in the town, and property in the town, is taxed appropriately,” he said. “Of course, that money can then be used by the town for the benefit of all.”

Because of this, Bent ultimately decided to vote against the matter. However, the motion for adjustments to be made to the listed tax accounts was still carried.

“I’d also like to make a motion or recommendation that the town adjust their policy, so that we’re not taxing people for property that does not show up on the tax roll through no fault of their own, or our own,” Bent added at the end of the discussion, though no other members of council spoke to this statement.

One thought on “Reaching back to tax

  • Peter Shapter

    No tax can be applied unless there is an assessment.
    The Municipal Assessment Agency will only accept adjustments arising from Appeals for the current Tax Roll which is updated every two years.
    The procedure denies the owner the right to appeal the assessment for the years before the 2017 tax assessment.
    The question is what was said in the discussions between the Town’s Department of Finance and the MAA before billing this owner?
    This sets an interesting precedent. If the MAA can assess retroactively what happens when a building permit is denied for land that has been taxed as if it could be developed? Could the owner apply for a retroactive tax refund with 14% (compounded monthly) for at least six years?


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