A Tax to Grind | A Blog to Enlighten and Entertain Those Afflicted with Property Tax

Mistaken Property Tax Identity

Topic: A Tax to Grind, A Tax to Grind

Thursday, 26 March 2015 by David H. LeVan

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Mistaken identity is a defense strategy in criminal law where attempts are made to undermine the prosecutor’s evidence by asserting that the eyewitness didn’t actually see the defendant. “The defendant just looks similar to that actual criminal.” “Are you sure you saw the right person?” Well, now it seems mistaken identity may be a property tax saving strategy.

According to AL.Com, an online news agency in Alabama, a “church” called The Life Center, may actually be something quite different, a nightclub. And this case of mistaken identity is to their advantage, since a church is exempt from property taxes and a nightclub is not.

Apparently the church has been operating as a church for years but when a Bay County field appraiser performed a routine check in January he reported that there was no such activity taking place at the facility. Instead it appears The Life Center is hosting a wide range of parties such as “Anything But Clothes” paint parties, “Slumber” pajama and lingerie parties and “What will you do for your beads?” Mardi Gras parties. They do take an “offering”, a $20 “donation” required at the door. For ease, they’ve installed an ATM machine.

After notifications from the Bay County Sheriff and Panama City Police, that the establishment was hosting the large theme parties and selling explicit merchandise, the assessor’s office has rescinded the property tax exemption on the property. I think the Police Chief summed it up best when he told the Panama City News Herald, “I’ve been in a lot of nightclubs and I’ve been in a lot of churches. That isn’t a church”. It’s a case of mistaken property tax identity.

Mistaken Property Tax Identity

Forgery is not a Property Tax Savings Strategy

Topic: A Tax to Grind, A Tax to Grind

Thursday, 19 March 2015 by David H. LeVan

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Do you remember the 2002 movie, “Catch Me If You Can”, produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Leonardo DiCaprio? The movie was based on the life of Frank Abagnale, who performed cons worth millions of dollars. One of his notable skills was forging checks. In fact, after he was captured the FBI turned to him to help them catch other forgers.

Forgery is “the action of producing a copy of a document, signature, or work of art”, and it’s not usually considered a property tax savings strategy. According to NewJersey.com, a 64 year-old man from Hillside, NJ, recently tried his hand (literally) at reversing this widely held belief. He may have been attempting to be the Frank Abagnale of property taxes.

The man creatively edited his property tax bill of $250 to make it look like the town owed him $13,250. After creating his “work of art” he took it to the collector’s office and attempted to have them credit him $13,250. When this was unsuccessful (and why wouldn’t it be), he filed a police report claiming the town hadn’t credited the money to him.

The man was arrested on fabrication and false swearing charges, thus proving once again that forgery is not a property tax savings strategy. Perhaps the title of his movie should be “You Can’t Help But Catch Me”.

Counterfeit Fake Forgery

Surprise! Your Neighbor Owns Half of Your Home.

Topic: A Tax to Grind, A Tax to Grind

Thursday, 12 March 2015 by David H. LeVan

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A woman was shocked to find out that she had lost half of her home to her neighbor in a property tax auction. According to the New York Post, Rosanne Di Guilio’s kitchen, living room and porch, along with .2 acres, now belong to her neighbor, who bought it for $275 at a county property tax auction. She found this out when she tried to build a shed on what she thought was her property. Surprise!

The problem originated with the fact that her home straddles two states: New York and Connecticut. Rosanne lives in Brewster, NY and New Fairfield, CT depending where she is in the house. When she went to refinance her mortgage in 2004 the property taxes on the New York side of the house were escrowed but never paid by the bank. The unpaid taxes amounted to $200 per year from 2004-2010. Unbeknown to her, the New York side of the house was then auctioned off for $275 to her neighbor.

The bank has taken responsibility for the mistake and is trying to negotiate a re-purchase of the New York half of the house. The neighbor is asking $150,000. In the meantime, Rosanne still owns two bedrooms on the Connecticut side of the home.

House Divided