Despite initial disappointment, disabled veterans in Columbia County were delighted earlier this year when they learned many of them would be getting tax refunds.
The rebates were expected to average more than $1,000 – with checks coming, they thought, just in time for Black Friday sales. It was money they hadn’t expected, but now rightly anticipated.
Alas, it seems Columbia County tax officials bit off more than they could chew. Most of the affected veterans will be lucky to get a check before Christmas.
The problems are many, says Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen.
“Our goal was to get them into the mail by Veterans Day,” Allen says. “But when we checked into it, it was so complicated that we just felt like we needed to be sure we were getting the right money to the right party in the right amount.”
The rebates are due because the federal government in 2007 raised the value of homestead exemptions that disabled veterans could claim. The feds then either failed to inform the states about the new rates, or Georgia officials failed to inform local counties.
Either way, counties around the state found out in mid-year they’d been overcharging those vets for the past three years.
Tax officials have to determine who was eligible in each of the years in which the taxes were collected; determine the difference between taxes paid and the revised amount due; and then calculate the total rebate.
Much of that work now has been done, and Allen expects that most of the rebate checks will go into the busy Christmas mail stream next week.
“Please be patient with us,” she said. “We’re trying to get it to you – and we’re trying to get it right.”
Do the vets have any other choice?