Friday, March 13, 2015

Want to help the library? Don't claim a refund of contested tax

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 11:19 AM

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Letters have gone out this week notifying Little Rock property taxpayers of a potential refund from settlement of a lawsuit over a 1.5-mill library property tax increase that a court held was improperly collected for seven months in 2008. Voters approved the increase, but a court held that it was put into effect before the law allowed.

Some $3 million in personal and real property tax payments is in a repayment fund, though Library Director Bobby Robert said the best estimate is that about $2 million of that is subject to refund. Many taxpayers have moved, died or otherwise can't be accounted for.

The refund would mean about a $30 refund for owner of a $150,000 house, less administrative fees and the 15 percent fee for the winning attorneys.

Unclaimed money will eventually revert to the library. It will be used, Roberts said, to buy books and other materials.

I'm going to let the library keep the money. I expected the tax to be assessed that year when I voted for it. A technical question got in the way. I also took a tax deduction for the property taxes I paid on my federal income tax return. In theory, a refund would require an amendment to that long ago return, wouldn't it? No matter, I'll make the contribution to the library.

To leave the refund unclaimed, you need do nothing. Don't mail anything in if you get one of the letters.

When I called Roberts about the letter, he said the library soon would be posting a letter responding to the many questions. A draft of it follows:


NOTICE:

Many persons who own property in Little Rock are receiving a letter with a post card which allows them to either claim a refund or not to claim a refund for library taxes paid between May 16, 2008, and December 31, 2008. This eligibility is limited to that time period and only to Little Rock taxpayers. The settlement is the result of a class action suit filed against the library in 2008 which we lost. It has taken all this time to agree on a final settlement. If you want your refund then check the YES box and return the post card. If you do not want the taxes returned, you may either check the NO box and return the post card or do nothing. In either case you will not receive the refund. Those refunds that are not claimed will eventually come to the Central Arkansas Library System. Most of the refunds will be used to purchase, books, dvds, and EBooks for the collection.

Your refund will vary according to how much property you own. For example, on a $150,000 piece of property that you owned during the eligibility dates the refund would be $30.00, (less 15% attorney’s fees and administrative overhead). My best guess is that this person would receive from $20.00 to $25.00 as a final settlement. Or, if you owned a car during the eligibility period that was assessed for $20,000 your refund would likely be from $4.00 to $6.00. For more information on the settlement please go to co.Pulaski.ar.us and click on “Personal Property Settlement.”

Thank you.

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