The Georgia Department of Revenue has informed finance officials of local Rome and Floyd County governments of a sales tax refund request settlement that will require the community to remit funds back to the Department of Revenue. From the information provided, a local industry made an accounting error spanning from 2005-2012 in the amount of $3,943,578.86. The local sales taxes impacted are Local Option Sales Tax (LOST), Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales (ELOST).
The reason for the refund request was due to an accounting error on the part of the company requesting the refund. A second refund settlement is being reviewed and a second settlement will occur during this year as well. The magnitude of the settlements will be in the $4.5 million range for the local governments when both settlements are resolved.
All local governments, Floyd County, City of Rome, City of Cave Spring, Floyd County Schools and Rome City Schools will be significantly impacted financially during this year due to this event. According to Rome City Manager, Sammy Rich and County Manager, Jamie McCord, the refund is a huge blow to the local governments and school boards. `Unfortunately, based upon the laws that govern the State Department of Revenue, the community is not made aware of the specific industry in question or given any real ability to question the refund. As such, the community is essentially faced with the choice of paying the funds back in whole, or to engage in a payback plan that will include 12% interest” said Rich. McCord echoed the sentiment, `This is obviously a setback to our community on many levels, which we will continue to study in order to better understand the full ramifications. It is very difficult for a local government to plan and manage budgets when faced with this type of scenario.`
In the coming days, weeks and months ahead all local governments will work together to engage the local legislative delegation to seek assistance in this matter and to change the statutes that govern refund settlements to prevent this from happening again.