Chesterton Tribune

Indiana counties underpaid on excise tax money

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The state auditor’s office said it is correcting erroneous excise tax distributions that resulted in more than 30 Indiana counties being underpaid about $500,000.

The mistake follows two much larger mistakes found in recent months in which other agencies under Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels mishandled more than $500 million in tax revenue.

The excise tax error happened when an employee incorrectly made the March distribution of nearly $20 million using what individual counties were owed the previous month, Erin Sheridan, a spokeswoman for Republican state Auditor Tim Berry, told The Journal Gazette for a story Friday.

Sheridan said the office was seeking refunds from counties that were overpaid and working to send additional money to those that were underpaid.

“It’s a regrettable but correctable error,” she said.

Excise taxes are collected by the state when residents register their vehicles. The auditor’s office — headed by an official elected separately from the governor — sends a portion of the money monthly to Indiana’s 92 counties depending on where the people live.

For instance, Allen County, which includes Fort Wayne, received $987,853 for its March distribution, about $18,500 less than it should have received.

The auditor’s office sent a letter notifying county officials of the error last week.

Sheridan said counties distribute the money among other local government units twice a year, in June and December, so the mistake isn’t causing additional financial troubles.

The head of the state’s Department of Revenue, who was appointed by the governor, resigned this month after it was discovered that $206 million in local option income taxes collected by the state wasn’t distributed to Indiana’s counties because of a computer programming error.

That error was found only after the Department of Revenue’s lone internal auditor discovered in December that $320 million in corporate tax revenue had been gathering, untouched, in a state holding account for more than four years.

 

 

 

Posted 4/27/2012