State misinterpretation leads to property tax miscalculation


A calculation error by the state has prompted county officials to reissue property tax bills for fall installment for some Jackson County taxpayers.

While examining their bills earlier this year, some taxpayers may have noticed a difference in their property taxes with some being higher and others lower.

The Jackson County Treasurer’s Office recently sent new fall bills with a letter explaining the situation to both those who owe more money and those who have refunds.

The issue was created when the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance misinterpreted the paperwork filed by the county after it submitted its information for property taxes due this year.

Jackson County Councilman Brian Thompson said the state mistakenly combined two income taxes that had different distribution rates. The first of those taxes was established in 2004 to replace the inventory tax, while the second, a safety tax, was established in 2016 as a way to fund emergency operations.

The safety tax also contained a provision providing relief at a third for homeowners and commercial and industrial property owners, Thompson said.

The 2004 income tax, which replaced revenue from an inventory tax that was eliminated, provided relief at 1 percent, but Seymour residents and property owners saw most of the benefits of that relief because most of the inventory is there.

By combining the two, property tax relief was set at one-third for all three classifications.

The state’s miscalculation caused certain property classifications to not receive enough credit, while others received more credit, county Treasurer Roger Hurt said.

“Some bills were going up, and some were going down,” he said.

The treasurer’s office is only tasked with collecting payments, while the auditor’s office is responsible for coordinating tax collection and distribution.

“There wasn’t more total tax collected or less tax collected total for the county,” Hurt said. “It was just a distribution of those taxes.”

The county discovered discrepancies in the bills when they arrived, but officials did not know what had caused the issue, and it was too late to fix it for the spring installment, which is due May 10 each year.

Thompson said the county works on a tight schedule once they receive bills from the state each year.

“We decided the best thing to do was to find out what happened,” he said.

The county then spent a significant amount of time investigating what had happened, Thompson said.

After the discovery, he said state officials suggested the county resolve the issue in 2019.

Thompson and others involved in the process decided that would not be the best approach, and they chose to resolve the issue.

“We were concerned about how complex that would be with properties changing hands over an entire year, the people that pay off their mortgages and all kinds of things that make it complex and not accurate,” he said.

The decision was to mail out the new bills, and the council recently approved $17,000 for reprinting and postage. Hurt said he did not have an estimate available Thursday, but he did not expect it to cost that much.

He said his office processed claims from July 2 until the end of August for credits to taxpayers who overpaid for those that paid both installments in the spring.

“There were 2,441 of those that went out,” he said.

The adjusted bills were printed this week, processed and mailed to taxpayers.

It’s important to note the bills received for the fall payments, which have a different payment amount from those received in the spring, will supersede the previous coupons, Hurt said.

He said the new bills are green, as opposed to blue.

“I’ve talked to all banks and have told them to only accept the green one for their bill,” he said.

Hurt said it took work and effort from his office along with the auditor and assessor’s offices to resolve the issue.

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