$19,000 CUVA refund requested
By Stephanie Johns
A request for more than $19,000 in tax refunds began last Tuesday night’s meeting of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC).
Ken and Warren Howard as well as Chuck Anglin, chief appraiser for the Morgan County Board of Assessors, were present to share their sides of the story as it pertains to the Howards’ request for a tax refund in the amount of $19,149.
The Howards’ request stems from their participation in the Conservation Use Value Assessment (CUVA) program.
According to the Georgia Department of Revenue (GDR), property owners who qualify for CUVA have their property assessed at 40 percent of current use value. In return, the property owners must keep the land undeveloped in a qualifying use for 10 years.
GDR defines “qualifying use” as “farming or commercial production of agricultural products or timber.”
Those property owners who do not keep their land undeveloped incur stiff penalties: “They must pay back to the taxing authorities twice the savings they have received over the life of the covenant up to the point it was breached.”
Anglin said that any death is a breach of the contract.
Ken said they had been taken out of conservation use twice: once when the Howards’ mother died and again following an assessor’s visit to the trailer on the CUVA property.
Apparently, one of Anglin’s coworkers was told by the trailer’s resident that they were paying rent to live there.
Ellen Warren, chairwoman of the BOC, asked whether or not Anglin’s field representative had gotten the name of the person living in the trailer who said they were renting. Anglin said no.
Ken insisted that the family’s use of the property hadn’t changed and that they had never received any letters from county CUVA representatives. Warren said his daughter lived there, not renters.
The Howards had paid $29,450 in CUVA taxes, penalties and interest in April 2012 and since that time had trouble getting in to meet with the commissioners.
Andy Ainslie, vice chairman of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners, noted that the breach went two years before the assessors realized it.
Ainslie asked how the Howards had missed the appeals process.
Christian Henry, county attorney, said that there were a couple of opportunities to appeal but those expired in 2009.
Warren thanked the Howards and Anglin for speaking to the BOC and told them that the board would take all that was said into consideration and make a decision regarding the Howards’ request for a refund of the CUVA penalties they had paid.
Anglin later noted that there are about 1,600 CUVA covenants in Morgan County, of which 40 percent are being reapplied for in 2013. He added that in 2011 he and his coworkers reevaluated properties while in 2012 they are looking at agricultural properties.
Printed in the September 27, 2012 edition