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Vidalia hopes for penalty refund

 

VIDALIA — The City of Vidalia is seeking a refund of some of the money it paid in penalties to the IRS earlier this year for six years’ worth of back taxes.

The city had to pay $635,412.76 to the Internal Revenue Service in October for payroll taxes that were owed for sporadic periods from 2006 to 2012. Copeland said Wednesday approximately 30 percent of that balance was penalties and fines that had accrued over the years.

“We are talking to the IRS about the penalties and the fines that were added to (the balances owed) if they weren’t paid on time, and we are asking if it is possible if we can be forgiven that,” Copeland said. “They stated that they felt they could work with us on that, and it looks good since we paid it immediately when we found out the amount we owed.”

Though the mayor said he did not know an exact figure for the amount the city might be reimbursed from the IRS, the indication is that it will be the majority of the penalties.

When the city paid the tax bill in October, Copeland said he was not aware of the unpaid taxes until a federal tax lien was filed against the city and an IRS agent informed employees at City Hall of the situation.

The blame for the non-payment of the taxes was placed on former City Manager Ken Walker, whose last day was Sept. 18. Walker is now the city manager in Sultan, Wash. While Walker initially denied responsibility in statements to The Natchez Democrat, he later accepted responsibility in other published venues and declined to comment further, stating that The Democrat had misunderstood his statements.

The funds to pay the taxes were taken from certificates of deposit the city kept for emergency situations.

Copeland said the city has since corrected the issues of oversight that resulted in the six years of missed payments, and more than one person is aware of when the taxes are due.

“We have a check and balance system on everything we are doing now,” he said. “Our temporary city manager is going over all of these processes, and is working with our accountants.”

The mayor said he hopes in the next month to know the exact amount the city will receive back.

 

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