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Some taxpayers will get bigger refunds than expected

Posted: March 12, 2013 - 4:55pm  |  Updated: March 17, 2013 - 12:03am

A handful of Columbia County taxpayers with small overpayments on property tax bills might be getting back more than they expected.

Members of the county commission’s Management and Financial Services Committee on Tuesday asked Tax Commissioner Kay Allen to research giving larger refunds than she’d requested after learning some of the overpayments had taken place for more years than the law requires repayment.

Allen sought approval of refunds for five taxpayers, from $151 to $1,838, most of them for overpayments because their property tax was based on an overestimate of their homes’ square footage.

Allen asked to authorize rebates for just the past three years, as state law doesn’t require refunds for older errors. County Commission Chairman Ron Cross, who is on the committee, proposed refunding the overpayments for as long as they had accumulated.

“I just don’t think there should be a statute of limitations on doing what’s right,” Cross said.

While the law holds counties liable for no more than three years of refunds, it requires taxpayers to make up for underpayments for up to seven years, noted County Administrator Scott Johnson.

“Of course, those aren’t brought to our attention quite as readily,” Allen joked.

Allen agreed to total up the refunds due all five taxpayers and bring the figures to commissioners March 18.

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