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Woman sues to recoup thousands overpaid in taxes to Bladen County

Landowner double taxed for land straddling Bladen, Cumberland County line
Updated: Mar. 4, 2021 at 1:48 PM EST
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BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - She overpaid her property taxes by more than $7,000, due to a mistake made by the Bladen County Tax Department. But Regina Whitted says the county is refusing to give her a full refund, even though they admit the error was theirs.

Whitted has been engaged in a lawsuit against Bladen County since 2018. She owns 40 acres of property on the Bladen/Cumberland County line. The majority of the property is in Bladen County, but 11.45 acres is in Cumberland. According to the lawsuit, Whitted, who lives in Maryland, has been charged property taxes by both counties since purchasing the property in 1993.

In 2018, the Bladen County Tax Administrator discovered that they had been taxing Whitted on all 40 acres of the property, rather than just the 29 acres she owns in Bladen County. Bladen County Tax Administrator Renee Davis notified Whitted of the mistake by email in July 2018.

“We have corrected the records and made the adjustments to the 2012-2017 tax bills.... Tomorrow I will post any refund to your outstanding balance and send you the remaining balance,” Davis wrote Whitted. Whitted responded, thanking her for catching the error, but asking for a full refund to include all overpaid taxes dating back to 1993.

“Right now, what needs to be addressed is the 18 years of overpayment of taxes made to Bladen county since the property was purchased.... Resolving the 18 years of overpayment of taxes would have a significant affect on the balance and in fact resolve any balance along with an entitlement to a refund,” Whitted wrote, asking for the matter to be taken before the Bladen County Board of Commissioners.

In their response to the lawsuit, Bladen County contends they have refunded Whitted all they are allowed to refund her by law.

“If a tax has been paid, the taxpayer, at any time within five years after said tax first became due or within six months from the date of payment of such tax, whichever date is the later date, may made a demand for a refund of the tax paid by submitting to the governing body of the taxing unit a written statement of his defense and a request for a refund thereof,” the defendant’s answer reads, quoting North Carolina General Statue 105-381.

Bladen County contends they are only able to refund Whitted for the last five years of overpayment under the law.

Whitted disagrees. Her attorney argues that because Bladen County taxed Whitted on land that was never in their jurisdiction to begin with, the “Defendents lacked legal authority to assess the real property for purposes of taxation in Bladen County.”

WECT was able to reach Whitted at her home in Maryland. She wanted her attorneys blessing before speaking to the media about the case, and we have been unable to reach them. The Bladen County Tax Administrator and attorneys representing the County declined to comment for this story.

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