Taxmanship for the library | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Taxmanship for the library

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 7:00 AM

Good story in the Democrat-Gazette this morning (sub. reqd.) on continuing legal action in the state Supreme Court's finding that one year's worth of Little Rock property taxes for the Central Arkansas Library System were collected too soon on account of a technicality.

I'll boil it down.

Library director Bobby Roberts is stringing out the appeal so plaintiffs in the lawsuit won't have the opportunity to claim repayment of the taxes through a credit on March tax bills. If taxpayers have to apply for a refund later instead of getting it automatically, many won't seek it and the cost to the library will be lower. Any delay, even of a credit refnd plan, also allows the library to buffer refunds with collections at the higher rate this year.

Eugene Sayre, winning attorney for taxpayers, wants the Supreme Court to hurry up. He also suggests he might want the court to do a little legislating and invalidate the statutory date for mailing March tax bills to accommodate his preferred refund method should he not get a speedy decision.

I don't want the refund and the huge majority of voters who approved the tax indicated they never expected it by approving a tax that all expected to be collected last year. The Quorum Court screwed up.

Sayre was all about ministerial precision when it came to collecting the tax; not so much on refunding it. There, the rules can be massaged.

PS -- A straight refund isn't as easy as it sounds and will take some figuring. Property values and ownership change, some property (cars, for example) no longer exist.

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