Finlay's tax troubles point out loopholes in tax process - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Finlay's tax troubles point out loopholes in tax process

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - This weekend, Kirkman Finlay said he did not know he owed any taxes because he never received a bill. He says it went to an address of a building he used to use, but does not anymore.

Finlay says he's gotten a refund check to the right address from the same office and does not understand the disconnect.

"If your job is to send bills to the taxpayers and he can send me checks, sending bills to a defunct office in Lexington that's been out of business for the better part of two years, I struggle to understand how that works," said Finlay. "But maybe there's a different process at work there."

So, we took Finlay's question to the Richland County Tax Office.

Richland County Treasurer David Adams says the refund check he sent was for a different business than the one he says Finlay owes money on. 

Adams says it can get tricky in Richland County when it comes to car or real estate tax. Anyone can be late and not even know it.

"When you have 250,000 cars, I don't think the auditor's office can go out and find everybody  who actually changes their address," said Adams.

Lakesha Burgess learned the hard way. The mother of two's husband recently got out of the Army and she knows a thing or two about moving.

She says she's been catching up on tax she didn't know was due.

"It would go to last known address before was able to change the address over so it was delaying me from getting the taxes in between moving," said Burgess.

Burgess says she changed her address with the US Postal Service, but that was not enough.

The auditor's office says if you move and your car tax bill goes to your old address, they won't try again, it will just sit there. The way to prevent that from happening is to make sure your address is current with the Department of Motor Vehicles as that's where they pull addresses from.

Now tax on real estate is different in Richland County. In that case, the auditor gets your address from the tax assessor's office. You'll need to check with them to make sure they're sending it to the right place.

"I am sure there are millions of ways to make tax collections of all kinds more efficient," said Adams. "The way our system is built it's your responsibility to change your information."

Burgess made things right on her lunch hour.

"I don't think we're going to move anymore, we'll be here for a while," said Burgess.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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