SARATOGA – The recently passed legislation appears to be causing headaches for Wyoming county treasurers before it even comes into effect. Senate Dossier 60, which was presented and adopted in the 2021 general session, is supposed to provide a process for monthly ad valorem taxation of mineral production instead of semi-annual payments.
At the May 18 meeting of Carbon County Commissioners, County Treasurer Patty Bentsen requested a letter of support from the Commissioners to delay the implementation of the monthly payment process. According to Senate 60 file, 50% of production from 2020 and all production from calendar year 2021 must be paid at 8% from December 1, 2023 until the unpaid amount is refunded. .
“There are a lot of unanswered questions as long as (the) Department of Revenue doesn’t have the software setup to take this money,” Bentsen said. “They do not send ACH (Automated Clearing House) to vendors or taxpayers and they have not sent any notification to taxpayers that it will take effect from January 2022.”
In addition, the legislation allocates funds – $ 16,726,000 from the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account – for county loans to cover deficits caused by the shift from semi-annual payments to monthly payments. These loans, according to the text of Senate File 60, are to be repaid by the county according to a schedule determined by the state treasurer at an interest rate of zero percent.
According to Bentsen, however, this raises a few questions for county treasurers. While the Senate 60 file states that the loans “will be secured by payment of remaining taxes” under the newly created “subsection g” of Wyoming State Law 39-13-113. This paragraph establishes the monthly payment of ad valorem taxes on mineral production from January 1, 2022.
“Who is responsible if these companies haven’t been around for 12 years since we borrowed money on their behalf?” Bentsen said. “What if they go bankrupt and we borrow money on their behalf?” “
Another concern of county treasurers is the disbursement of funds after collection by the Wyoming Department of Revenue. Bentsen told BOCCC that if $ 1 million was sent to her office after collection, she would not be notified by the ministry of the plot from which the funds were raised and should be distributed. Under section 39-13-111 of the Wyoming State Bylaws, county treasurers are required to proportionally distribute funds to each county tax entity.
“We’re going to have to water it to the best of our ability and then in June, when we have to reconcile it, let’s say we’ve given the health district more money than it deserves, they won’t be paid the deed. ‘money from them, “Bentsen said.” There has to be a more viable plan. There are too many uncertainties and they could decimate some of these neighborhoods, let alone the cities.
Bentsen has asked county commissioners to submit a letter supporting the Wyoming County Treasurer’s Association asking the state of Wyoming to delay implementation of the monthly ad valorem tax payments. With the Wyoming legislature holding a special session in July, the county treasurer said she hoped that time could be used to ensure the Revenue Department can get all of its ducks in a row.
“They’re not going to line up their ducks. They don’t even have them in the same damn pond. They will have to give us a solid foundation to move forward, ”said Commissioner Byron Barkhurst. “The intention behind this, originally, was good in my opinion, so we’ve kept track of some of these mineral and ad valorem taxes. It has just been completely emptied.
“The Ministry of Revenue knew that this train had left the station over a year ago and it knows that the treasurers must know on what parcel this production took place and what was the value of this production when this check is handed over. “, added Commissioner John Espy. “They know that.”
Indeed, prior to the tabling of Senate File 60 during the 2021 General Session, the Wyoming Legislature passed Bill 159 in the 2020 Budget Session. This Bill, presented by the Special Committee on coal and minerals bankruptcies, created a provision for the monthly payment of ad valorem taxes.
Espy added that the collection of the ad valorem tax on mineral production affected eight of Wyoming’s 23 counties. Additionally, due to the amount of mineral production in these eight counties, they were the major educational funders in the state. The commissioner said if the state of Wyoming did not get these taxes collected and paid properly, it would have serious consequences for school districts in the state.
A motion asking the BOCCC to send a letter of support to the Wyoming County Treasurers Association was approved unanimously.