The Pulaski County commissioners were told this week that they could possibly collect approximately $750,000 from invalid homestead deductions in the county. Dave Wishlinski from SRI told the commissioners that they’ve identified nearly 900 properties in the area that could be receiving a hefty tax deduction that they might not qualify for.
“Every tax bill will have a homestead credit on it which generally saves you about 50% on your tax bill. You’re only permissible to have one homestead deduction anywhere in the United States, so basically we’re going to go through data that is submitted by the county to the Department of Local Government Finance and read through it,” said Wishlinski.
Wishlinski told the commissioners that they have already identified 886 parcels as possibilities for invalid homestead deductions, and the collections could possibly total as high as a quarter of a million dollars.
“We have 15 different reason codes we sort it by, and check for any reason from having an out-of-state billing address, which we usually see as an indication of having a homestead in another state, which in that case would invalidate the homestead here and they’d be liable for up to three years back-taxes,” said Wishlinski.
SRI would receive 30% of the money that is collected, but would allow the county auditor’s office to access their database listing all of the parcels that are possibly claiming invalid homestead deductions. The auditor’s office could then send a “soft notice” to these homes, requesting that the homeowner contact the auditor’s office to verify that the property is in fact their homestead. If they do not receive a reply, a demand notice is sent.
The auditor’s office already has a full plate, but this program wouldn’t require much of their time—only a few hours per week would be spent “flagging” properties to receive the notices. They would also be able to remove anyone from the list at any time for any reason, and all money would be submitted directly to the auditor’s office.
Commissioner Mike Tiede said that he is interested in looking into this, but County Attorney Kevin Tankerslee was not present to give his legal approval so he will have to review the matter.