County may not pay residents to rat on their neighbors
February 23, 2010
The Summit County Courthouse does not expect to enter into an arrangement with a couple in the Park City area who agreed to turn in homeowners who rent out their properties while receiving a tax break by declaring the house their primary residence.
People who own primary residences in Utah can receive a 45-percent exemption on their property taxes.
A man and woman hoped to receive payments from the county for revealing the names of people who are profiting on nightly rentals while receiving significant tax breaks. The couple was recently caught renting out their home nightly while receiving the tax exemption and then offered to tell about others who were also breaking the law.
Because they were using their property for nightly rentals they should have been excluded from receiving the primary residential property tax exemption, according to deputy Summit County attorney David Thomas.
For a "finder’s fee" the couple claimed they would expose other property owners in the county who are engaged in the same type of schemes.
However, Summit County Councilman Chris Robinson said he was not "a huge fan" of paying people to expose their neighbors.
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"It just seems weird to be going about business that way," Robinson said.
To receive the finder’s fee the couple would likely need to provide evidence that is admissible before the Utah State Tax Commission.
"I have concerns about this," Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said in a telephone interview Monday.
Summit County Council Chairwoman Claudia McMullin said she is against the county entering into a contract with the couple.
"It doesn’t sit well with me, the idea of paying people to spy on their neighbors," McMullin said. "I don’t know why we would be considering it."
As proposed, the fee may be a small percentage of the difference between the taxes paid with the primary exemption and those paid on 100 percent of the value of the property.