Boat Owner Hit With Old Tax Bill Of Previous Owner - WSPA.com

Boat Owner Hit With Old Tax Bill Of Previous Owner

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INMAN, S.C. -

If you drive up to Kay and Larry Dukes' house in Inman, you'll notice a large pontoon boat sitting in their back yard. After they first bought it in 2009, they used it all the time. But they don't anymore.

"My momma got real sick and I felt a little guilty about, sorry," said Kay, fighting back tears, ‘having such a good time on the lake when she was so sick."

So they parked it and plan to give it to one of their sons.

In the meantime, they continued to pay the property taxes to Spartanburg County for the boat and motor. Kay says they've paid every year since 2010.

But when she tried register the boat this year, Kay was told she owed back taxes from 2009, belonging to the previous boat owner.

"I said, what? And she went on to say that the taxes follow the boat. I said, well that might be the case, I don't quite understand that, but we've had this boat for several years," said Kay. "Why didn't we get taxes owing on the first bill we got in 2010?"

There is a reason for the late notice.

Spartanburg County Administrator Katherine Hubbard tells us there was a software update a few months ago that's helping the tax office better track boats and motors by title number.

And that upgrade caught the old tax bill from 2009 related to Kay's boat.

Hubbard says they weren't aware of it before then because it wasn't in the Dukes' name.

"It is my understanding that when situations like this arise, the auditor's office can help address the matter by declaring the new owner an "innocent purchaser", which is what occurred in this case," said Hubbard.

Meaning the Dukes no longer owe those back taxes. They also received a letter from the county auditor, making it official, as their boat awaits its next owner.

We also asked Spartanburg County how many other delinquent tax bills may have been caught by this upgraded system. We're told they have not seen a significant change in tax notices.

If you're in the market for a boat, be sure to call the county tax office first. Ask if there are any outstanding tax bills related to the property. If there are, be sure to settle the issue with the seller before making the purchase.

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