Loophole spares Peach from paying property tax

Steve Korris Mar. 31, 2005, 1:00pm

In the year-and-a-half that Armettia Peach owned 9 Briarcliff Dr. in Granite City, she never paid a penny for property tax.

Even though she should have paid, apparently Peach did not cheat. She was spared by a loophole.

Granite City, which once owned the property and qualified for tax exempt status, bungled efforts to relieve itself of unnecessarily paying taxes on the property. And once it did achieve tax exempt status, the city failed to file the appropriate documents with the Illinois Department of Revenue to put it back on the tax rolls in time to recover taxes owed during Peach's ownership.

Since Peach no longer owns the house, the county cannot recover from her.

Five years ago the home belonged to a woman who bought it through the "$1 Buy" program of the the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • In 2000, the owner paid $1,076.58 in 1999 property tax, plus three percent old interest. In the same year that owner lost the title, which passed to HUD.

  • In 2001, HUD received a bill for $1,004.28 in 2000 property tax. The HUD secretary paid.

  • In March 2001, HUD gave the property to Granite City.

  • In 2002, the city received a bill for $1,073.96 in 2001 property tax. The city paid, but did not have to.

    If the city would have asked for an exemption, the llinois Department of Revenue should have approved it.

  • On April 26, 2002, Granite City at last asked for an exemption.

  • On May 8, 2002, Granite City sold the property to Kevin Link.

  • In August 2002, Link sold it to Chad Carpenter.

    The city did not inform the Illinois Department of Revenue that it no longer owned the property.

    In the meantime, city's application for exemption slowly advanced through the bureaucracy.

  • In 2003, Carpenter received a bill for $1,105.71 in 2002 property tax, plus 1.5 percent old interest. He paid.

  • In March 2003, Carpenter signed the title over to Armettia Peach on a quit claim deed.

  • In June 2003, the state approved the city's application for exemption. Madison County flagged the property as STEX - state exempt.

  • In 2004, the county sent out 2003 tax bills. The STEX code caused a computer to zero out the tax on 9 Briarcliff Drive. Peach did not receive a bill.

    The error was spotted in the course of Madison County's quadrennial reassessment. The STEX code came off.

    Madison County Board of Review chairman Kerry Miller said reassessments turned up 20 properties that paid no tax for 2003 due to mistakes.

    Granite City would qualify for a refund if it asked for one, according to Miller. He said the exemption applied to the entire time the city owned the property.

    Records of the county treasurer show the city has not asked.

    Peach sold the house last October to a corporation that sold it in December. New owner Laurie Selph will receive a 2004 property tax bill.

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