From yesterday’s Sentinel, I think:

County owes $225,000 in past due tax
by Winston Jones/Douglas County Sentinel

Tax audits are not just the ominous dread of the individual taxpayer.

U.S. Treasury Department auditors recently visited the Douglas County Courthouse and left behind a $225,000 invoice for past due payroll taxes.

The amount due includes disputed payroll taxes of $75,000 in 2007, $100,000 in 2008 and $50,000 in 2009, Jennifer Hallman, county finance director, told a Board of Commissioners (BOC) work session Monday. She said the Treasury Department has agreed to waive the regular 7 percent interest on the taxes due.

The BOC is expected to approve a payment agreement with the U.S. Treasury at today’s 10 a.m. BOC meeting in Citizens Hall at the county courthouse.

Hallman said the Treasury auditors cited 1956 and 1973 Georgia laws which define who qualifies as an employee for payroll tax deductions and who is an independent contractor.

The auditors found that payroll taxes should have been deducted from checks made to election poll workers, senior citizen recreation instructors and passport and vital records fees paid to court clerks.

“This is not just something happening here, but going on all over the state,” Commission Chairman Tom Worthan said of the audits. “They’re saying a ballroom instructor for two weeks at the senior center should be considered an employee and not an individual contractor.”

Ken Bernard, county attorney, said the tax situation is due to Georgia legislation and will require new legislation to change.

“You won’t get any legislation through this year,” he added, noting the current General Assembly session is less than 10 days from completion.

“This will hurt us in hiring poll workers since many are senior citizens,” District 4 Commissioner David Latham said.