Town to tighten up on collection of property and meals taxes

By David Broyles -

Hillsville officials plan to keep tighter rein on collections of personal property tax, real estate tax and meal taxes as they make the most of available revenues which directly affect services to citizens. According to Town Treasurer LeAnna Hines, she learned of collection opportunities following a recent treasurers’ conference in Harrisonburg.

“(Until the conference) I wasn’t aware of the authority we have which is in the State Code,” said Hines. “This isn’t new. It’s in the State Code. There’s always a unique situation, so we want people to know the town is willing to work with them. There are payment plan options. We just need to address those evading the law. “

She indicated she felt delinquent taxes left outstanding were unfair to taxpayers who pay while others continue to not abide by the regulations. She said the stricter enforcement of collections will bring the town into compliance allowed by law.

Hines said persons determined to be delinquent on paying taxes will receive a bill, followed by letters clearly informing them of delinquent payments before other notices are also sent. The process can culminate in a 10-day letter being served by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department or Hines herself.

Another option open to the town in delinquent tax collection can involve a “do not move” notice on automobiles or property to serve as collateral until the money owed is collected or, in the case of an automobile which is seized, collateral items may be sold to recoup expenses. Hines said pointed out she plans on using this authority to bring collection of meals tax monies by the Town into compliance. She said that the State Code considers failure to remit meals tax money as a felony.

“Under these provisions, town treasurers have the ability and the option to get money from your bank account, for instance,” said Hines. “In some circumstances we could confiscate equipment from a business and use the do not move measure to take them to court. Another example could be the town taking action on abandoned homes where no taxes have been paid for years.”

She reported current personal property taxes which are delinquent amount to about $61,330.98 with $39,991.38 in delinquent real estate taxes.

“I’d like to recoup this,” said Hines. “We don’t want to cut our services to citizens because of less revenue coming in. Meal tax is especially difficult to handle during the flea market but collecting and paying the meals tax is the responsibility of vendors. This is not a secret to them.” She said her office and the state regularly cooperate to use state taxes and local meals taxes to triangulate what should be collected.

Hines said collection and submission of meal tax revenues to a town or county is the law because it was always collected with the pretext of being directly used for services to citizens, such as garbage collection. She said the town is also looking into using similar measures to collect business license and other fees.

David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.

By David Broyles

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