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Municipalities to get copies of tax records after Green Tree suit

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Green Tree's lawsuit against Jordan Tax Service has been settled without a lengthy, expensive court battle.

The borough sued to obtain copies of its earned income tax records from 2012.

“What we were doing, we're receiving monies — earned income tax — but have no ability to reconcile it,” said borough Manager David Montz. “We have the responsibility to make sure monies due to Green Tree are coming here.”

When the borough originally requested the records from Jordan Tax Service, the borough was told it was not entitled to that information.

“They basically said, ‘We won't turn them over,' ” said Montz, who also is the representative for Green Tree on the Allegheny County South West Tax Collection Committee.

Montz said that under Pennsylvania's Act 32, which states that all tax records shall be property of the political subdivisions and collection districts in which the taxes were collected, the records should be accessible to the borough.

Jordan Tax initially proposed releasing only the names and addresses of the borough's taxpayers. This, however, Montz said, would not allow them to reconcile their numbers with the tax records.

Scott Township had also recently joined in the lawsuit.

“We thought this was important,” township Manager Denise Fitzgerald said. “We had no way to reconcile if we were getting all of our tax money from all of our taxpayers. We needed a way to verify we are getting everything due to us.”

In a settlement reached at 4 p.m. Thursday and unanimously accepted by the County South West Tax Collection Committee just two hours later, Jordan Tax agreed to allow the borough to view the tax information over a secure system. The original proposal included a fee to view the records, something Montz said was also incompatible with Act 32. Jordan Tax acquiesced.

Montz said the taxpayer information is highly confidential and, under state law, cannot be released. State law mandates that an employee who releases confidential taxpayer information faces termination.

The settlement of the lawsuit also saves the borough the time and cost of litigation.

“We're pleased that Jordan Tax Service sat down and was able to come to terms with us without long, drawn out litigation,” he said.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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