A taxing issue is back on the docket for the York County Council.
The council voted Monday night in to reopen a discussion about whether to fully refund a York County resident for 10 years of overpaid taxes.
Erin Ramey, a Rock Hill homeowner, discovered earlier this year she had been paying a 6 percent tax rate on her home. That’s a rate typically designated for rental properties and businesses, not the 4 percent levied on owner-occupied for homes.
State law allows someone who catches the mistake to recoup the past two years of overpaid funds. Ramey collected the overpayment for 2015 and 2016, but she had to petition the council for the amount she overpaid since she moved into the home in 2005.
Verified documents note she paid more than $1,000 in total than she had to for that decade, and also paid almost $1,470 extra to the city of Rock Hill.
Both the county manager and county tax assessor recommended refunding the county’s portion of the overpayment. The council voted last month to reject the initial plea, but council member William “Bump” Roddey asked to bring the resident in front of the council to plead her case.
“It seems like every level of government is out to stick it to the citizens every chance it gets,” said Ramey, a Winthrop University graduate. “York County has a chance to step up and do the right thing by the citizens.”
The council will likely consider a first reading of an ordinance that could refund the money at the next scheduled meeting, May 1 in York. It will take three readings to make it official, but Roddey said he was optimistic that the county could “be fair to her.”
Council member Michael Johnson, who was absent Monday, said at last month’s meeting that he was concerned about a refund. He said it possibly could open up “thousands of dollars” in such refunds to flow from the county coffers.
I want to make contact with any other people. Whether we need to do a (public service announcement) or something to make sure people check their property bill and make sure this isn’t going on at their home.
York County Council member William “Bump” Roddey
Johnson, a Fort Mill-based real estate attorney, said he tells his buyers to fill out a form and send it to the county, stating that the home will be owner-occupied. Every time a deed is filed in the county, a form is mailed to the home, and the homeowner is responsible for getting the home taxed at the correct rate.
“If it had been a situation where I was paying 4 percent, and needed to pay 6 percent,” said Ramey, “I’m sure you would want me to pay.”
The council ultimately sided with Ramey on Monday, voting 5-1 to reconsider her case.
Roddey said he was willing to argue for a parallel ordinance, allowing the county’s tax assessor to pay back overpayment for an additional four years for any future cases.
“I want to make contact with any other people,” Roddey said. “Whether we need to do a (public service announcement) or something to make sure people check their property bill and make sure this isn’t going on at their home.”
How can I tell whether I pay the right tax rate for my York County home?
There are several ways to check whether your home is taxed at the right rate. Calling the York County Assessor's Office at 684-8526 is one. Residents also can go online at https://maps2.yorkcountygov.com/ez/Search_Owner.aspx.
Find your property by typing your name in the box. Then click "view report" and under the "taxes" section, it will show how the property is taxed. If it says 4 percent, that's the owner-occupied home rate. If you own and live in the home and it isn't at 4 percent, it can be corrected. A link just below it connects to the assessor's office.