There is nothing quite as sweet as success. When the battle is tough, avoiding the bitter taste of defeat makes success that much sweeter. On the battlefield of fraud and human error, there can only be one winner and one loser. According to an article in CivSource, local authorities in Greenville County, South Carolina are coming out on top.
Greenville County’s assessor’s office recognized that it was losing money to overpayments in its legal residence tax exemption program. By and large, most people are honest and are willing to pay their fair share. So, often these overpayments occurred when taxpayers made improper claims because they simply didn’t understand the exemption rules. Or, maybe they made a mistake on their paperwork. Unfortunately, sometimes it was simply due to fraud. In any case, the county recognized that it needed to ensure that taxpayers were paying the true amount that they owed, so they turned to private sector experts with a Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection Program for help. (Here’s my full disclosure: the companies that provided the support were LexisNexis and our partner Tax Management Associates.)
Here’s how it worked: the program leveraged public records data and advanced linking technology to analyze the Greenville County legal residence exemption records and look for indicators for fraud and other anomalies. They then investigated the initial findings, verified the information and prioritized the accounts for collection by Greenville County. To date, the county has billed 2,552 accounts with delinquencies from anywhere from one to four years worth nearly $3 million and collected more than $1 million. (Just imagine how many police, fire and education jobs and/or programs can be funded with $3 million.)
I’d say that in this battle we can say: Fraudsters/Anomalous Payments – 0, Greenville County – 1. Here’s hoping the remaining $2 million in funds just rolls in.