So has anyone else received a "friendly" reminder form the Tucker county sheriffs department reminding you that Taxes are to be paid on any and all rentals?
I am hoping I was not the only one.
I have heard that Tucker County is trying to crack down on this, because they believe many properties by private owners are being rented "off the books," which is making it difficult for the county to pay for things like emergency services. Businesses (such as rental companies) and individuals that do pay these taxes are upset about the situation, since they are effectively paying higher taxes to compensate for others not paying the taxes required by law. Owners renting properties are required to pay 6% state and 6% county taxes on lodging, as well as acquiring a business license. And if they hire service people "off the books," (i.e., hiring someone to perform housekeeping who does not have a business license), then they're supposed to pay traditional employee taxes and fees for that work.
I don't think this problem is specific to Tucker County; it probably occurs at vacation destinations across the country. But I have heard that Tucker County is beginning to crack down on this and even performing audits and stings; it's not something people want to mess around with -- not paying the taxes is a criminal offense and there can be large fines.
There was a front page article in the Parsons Advocate September 5 that discussed this crackdown.
First offense is a misdemeanor that carries up to 30 days in jail and up to $500 fine.
Second offense is a felony, that carries imprisonment 1 to 3 years and/or fine from $1000 to $10,000.
Right now they're chasing the obvious, like rental agencies, followed by individuals whose property is registered with the county as a rental.
Next will be properties NOT registered as rentals, but that have non-resident ownership listed. These properties are suspected, in their minds, of actually being rented but not paying the hotel-motel tax (as well as only paying property taxes at 1/2 the rate of a rental property).
You can understand why Tucker needs to pursue this. More than 1/2 of the property in the county is government or foundation-owned, and pays no property taxes. And there is virtually no commercial tax base there either.
Makes me glad I don't rent out my Tucker Co. place and I own my rental in Randolph which probably has some kind of law....
I don't rent my condo in Canaan Valley and therefore pay the lower (Class 2, I believe) tax rate. I can certainly understand the problem of off-the-books rentals, as it certainly has an adverse effect on the county's already low tax base. It would be in everyone's best interest (from locals to 2nd homeowners to rental property owners, etc) if everyone WAS honest about it and paid the appropriate taxes- emergency and other services benefit everyone that has any kind of affiliation to the area. I have no problem with strict enforcement relating to this.