Tax attorney Liz Vaughn recently released the Harrison County's property tax collection report, which found that the county's total revenue from surveys exceeded 100 percent of the adjusted levy over the past four years.
"The way we get over 100 percent is your current tax revenue, your criminal tax revenue, and then that last little bit of fine and interest we collect over the year," said Vaughn, tax attorney with the tax collection company McCreary of County, Veselka, Bragg & Allen PC as she reviewed the report to the County Commissioners Court for the year ended September 30, 2020. "In this way you can achieve over 100 percent collections."
She said for the 2019 tax year, ended September 30, 2020, the company collected 97.42 percent of the county's assessed taxes.
“Your taxes for 2018, 98.47 percent of the taxes you levied, have been collected. 2017 taxes, 98.81 percent of what you originally levied, were collected; and your taxes for 2016, 98.94 percent of what you originally collected, were collected as of September 30, 2020, "she told the commissioner's court. "For example, your adjusted tax levy was $ 24 million (for) 2016, and as of September 30th, you had only $ 216,000 outstanding for that tax year."
Also in her report, Vaughn pointed to a table that shows the original amount of crime the county turned over to the company versus the amounts collected.
“This is specifically about criminal tax collection. Your 2019 taxes, which were given to us on July 1, 2020, had three months to collect these taxes at the time this report was finalized. They made us $ 955,000 and we raised 36.86 percent of that in three months, ”she said.
She said for 2018, with 15 months of debt collection activity, the tax authority collected 63.33 percent of what the county had originally implemented.
"Your taxes for 2017, with 27 months of debt collection, we collected 82.53 percent of what you gave us," she noted. "In your taxes for 2016 with 39 months of collection activity, 75.88 percent of your income was collected as of September 30, 2020."
The report also included a breakdown by status for the years 2016-2019. The breakdown covers specific categories, including lawsuits and judgments, pre-litigation payouts, research and progress, bankruptcy and forbearance. In 2019 there was a litigation category in the appraisal district. The report also includes accounts with unknown addresses.
"We're actively working to get an address so we can try to collect it," Vaughn said.
It noted that the district litigation category refers to cases where a person is in dispute with the district court level.
"It doesn't happen very often in Harrison County, but there are some pending in 2019 that are involved in this type of litigation," Vaughn said.
"Tax deferral continues to be used by those who qualify for it," she added. "It's a bit higher this year than last year and I expect that to continue."
The report also included a breakdown of the county's total delinquent tax role by year.
“As of September 30, 2020, your total outstanding balance was $ 2.4 million. That's less than last year, ”noted Vaughn.
"You have about 3.4 percent of the tax role associated with bankruptcy," she added. "It's a bit over, too, but not drastically."
Pointing out another chart in the report, Vaughn said 2017-2019 represented 49 percent of the county's outstanding tax role.
"There will always be a small percentage of it outstanding. Some of it will be bad when it's handed over to us," Vaughn said.
“We are still working in these years. We will never stop trying to raise the money on your behalf no matter the number of years owed, "she told county officials.
Vaughn shared how the tax authorities are taking proactive steps to successfully collect delinquent taxes owed by the county.
"From January 1, 2017 to September 30, 2020, we sent over 82,000 notices to your delinquent taxpayers," she said.
In addition, the company filed 1,148 lawsuits on 2,732 real estate accounts.
"We assessed 791 of these cases with 1,998 real estate accounts," said Vaughn.
She said the company continues to use tax commands.
"We use these for both personal property and royalty cases, the majority of which will be here in Harrison County," she said.
Vaughn said the company filed 1,636 properties for tax sale during that time. A total of 1,383 new homes were booked.
"Then 253 of those properties that were originally booked didn't meet the statutory minimum bid, and then they were put up for resale in December when we have the annual resale," noted Vaughn. "During that time, 253 of these were offered for resale."
Vaughn said the tax sale the company carried out for the county in December had been successful.
"All resale properties were originally sold for tax purposes," she reported. "There were over 100 properties that were put back on the tax list on December 1st."
District Judge Chad Sims thanked her for the presentation and Pct. 1 Commissioner William Hatfield thanked her and the company annually for their consistency.