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Old Personal Property Taxes Still Collectable

There are millions of dollars Franklin County officials wish they could get their hands on, especially in these tough economic times. The money is from unpaid personal property taxes. WOSU reports, a change in tax policies and the recession may make it even more difficult to collect the delinquent funds.

$50 million...that's how much unpaid personal property taxes Franklin County is due if it could be collected.

"The amount that's unpaid certainly would benefit if it could be collected," Franklin County Treasurer Ed Leonard said.

Leonard said 2008 was the last year for Franklin County businesses to be billed a personal property tax - that's the tax on tangible items like machinery, furniture and tools. It was replaced by the Commercial Activity Tax or CAT, approved in 2005.

"It may be that businesses are shifting their focus from the personal property tax commitments, and focusing more on their commitments under the CAT tax requirements," he said.

Leonard said there are companies out there that for various reasons can not pay their taxes - maybe they've gone be out of business. And the poor economy may not help their ability to pay their taxes.

"We're seeing more companies that are having difficulty paying, going in to bankruptcy, or going out of business, or leaving taxes unpaid. The failure to pay the personal property tax is just like the failure to pay real estate taxes - effects our schools, effects our social services agencies like the MRDD and the ADAM-H board," Leonard said.

Even though the personal property tax has been phased out Leonard said the county can still collect unpaid debt. Delinquent personal property taxes can be collected up to five years before it falls off the books.