County tax committee opposes shredding financial documents
Jan 04, 2013 (The Citizens' Voice - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Since July 2012, the Luzerne County Tax Collection Committee has been trying to recover old tax records.
Now, the committee is taking legal action to try to prevent those records from being destroyed by a court-appointed administrator.
Records from the Central Tax Bureau of Pennsylvania, also known as Centax and the Don Wilkinson Agency, are now in the hands of a court-appointed receiver, who wants to destroy those documents.
The committee and the receiver have not reached an agreement to allow the committee to retrieve its records, said Jeffrey Malak, LCTCC solicitor. He said he hopes an out-of-court agreement can still be reached, saying the committee's objection needed to be filed before a Jan. 8 deadline. An Allegheny County judge will hold a hearing on the request Jan. 16.
Calls to a lawyer at the receiver, Campbell & Levine, LLC in Pittsburgh, were not returned. In the motion seeking permission to shred the records, Campbell & Levine said most or all of the documents are unnecessary to finish Centax's operations and that the firm does not have enough money to pay rent for storing the records.
The motion Malak filed doesn't stop Campbell & Levine from destroying records. Instead, it formally objects to the receiver's proposal. A judge will make the final decision on whether the records can be destroyed.
About $9 million is still owed to county municipalities and school districts, and destruction of the records "would cause a considerable loss of income to Luzerne County as we would be unable to determine which residents have not paid their tax," wrote LCTCC treasurer Pamela Heard in an email to Paul J. Cordaro, a lawyer with Campbell & Levine.
The TCC's request only covers income tax records in 2012. Centax collected other taxes for municipalities and school districts in the county, and those towns and schools should file their own motions if they want to recover old records, Heard said.
The state Attorney General's Office said laws prevent it from investigating the situation with Centax, according to a Dec. 17 letter the office sent to Malak.
Instead, jurisdiction for the matter belongs to the Luzerne County District Attorney's Office, the letter said.
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