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The Sanpete Messenger

Double tax payments on same parcel and other tax disputes continue to plague Sanpete County

Double tax payments on same parcel and other tax disputes continue to plague Sanpete County

 

By Kristi Shields

Staff writer

7-23-2020

 

Sanpete County has an ongoing issue of receiving taxes from two entities on the same property, and not knowing about it for at least a decade—in one case, for 40 years.

Frank Crowther, of Ephraim, found out six years ago that both he and his neighbor were paying taxes on the same property for 15 years.

Crowther said after he bought the property and registered it with the county, he had the property surveyed to ensure where the fence lines were located, but it had not been done correctly, so his fence line was about 75 feet over the property line.

When his neighbor bought the property next door, the neighbor was paying taxes on the 75 feet of property without either of them knowing it.

Crowther and his neighbor received a tax notice that determined they were both paying taxes on the same property.

Crowther said his neighbor attempted to file a quitclaim, which is a document that transfers ownership of real property from one party to another. His neighbor wanted the right to the property, and to rent on Crowther’s duplex on the property.

“We went to court, but the judge would not rule,” Crowther said.

The two entities discussed the situation with the county, who then corrected the fence lines and property descriptions on the tax forms, which in turn eliminated the issue.

“[My neighbor] recognized my claim when the county changed the description, so we settled it privately.”

Crowther said neither he nor his neighbor was credited by the Sanpete tax recorder.

County Attorney Kevin Daniels said, “This is an issue that’s been in existence for a long time—back to my early childhood.”

A similar situation happened with another family’s property that was passed down through generations since the early ‘30s when Devin Quilter’s grandparents purchased the property.

The family’s property was set up on grids—one portion being on one grid and the other portion on another grid.

“My assumption is that they assumed that was an orphaned piece of property… since it wasn’t being taxed, they sold it on a tax sale,” Quilter said. “All we know is a fence showed up on the property.”

Quilter said his family contacted the city and found out that they did indeed sell it on a tax sale, but they had the proper tax information showing that they’ve been paying taxes on it along with the neighbor paying taxes on it.

Quilter said the neighbor does not want to fight for the property; they want the tax money back while the Quilter’s family can have the property back.

Quilter requested the city to compensate his neighbors for the tax money.

“How can we compensate them?” Quilter asked. “Morally, ethically, aren’t we obligated to take care of them?”

Quilter argues that the county received the money from the family, so they should get the money back.

Commissioner Scott Bartholomew said the tax money is long gone because it is spent on a yearly basis. The county shares the money with the school districts and many other people who extract funds from the taxes.

The county suspects the total taxes could be around $43,000. “I see the concern, but we don’t have mechanisms to go back,” Bartholomew said.

Commissioner Steven Lund said both of the families will need to meet with the Board of Equalization in August to figure out a solution. “That’s the best we can do.”