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Natural Resources & Energy

Legislators To Discuss Solutions To Large Backlog Of Unpaid Taxes

Powder River Basin Resource Council

The Joint Interim Revenue Committee is planning to discuss changes to a particular kind of tax known as ad valorem. It's a mineral property tax that has been a huge challenge for counties to collect for years due to policies that don't prioritize its collection.

Issues include a delayed payment schedule, a lack of priority in the debt collection line-up, and delinquent companies simply refusing to pay. A report from the Powder River Basin Resource Council calculated counties are owed about $55 million dollars.

Hesid Brandow, an organizer with the Council, said this ad valorem tax problem should be important to everyone in Wyoming.

"It affects all our services: emergency services, trash, schools, roads, all those services are going to be impacted," Brandow said.

Legislators plan to discuss solutions like more consistent payments, a higher priority in debt collection and strategies to reduce delinquency.

Brandow said she would like to see a state funding pool to help counties through bankruptcies. She also wants to grant the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality the power to review a company's tax debt before selling off assets.

"That would benefit counties because they would be getting money owed to them before that sale takes place and the assets change hands," she said.

Ad valorem policy changes have been in discussion for years, with little forward movement. But Brandow says everyone from legislators to school districts are on the same page and want to find a solution.

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