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Transition to new earned income tax collector continues

Published November 15. 2012 05:01PM

The transition of Carbon County's earned income tax collector is moving forward, officials report.

During the meeting of the Carbon County Tax Collection Committee on Wednesday evening, James Hunt, the director of sales and client services for Berkheimer and Associates of Bangor, updated the group on the transition from former EIT collector, Central Tax Bureau of Pennsylvania Inc. (Centax) of Bridgeville, to Berkheimer. The tax collection committee is comprised of representatives from each of the county's municipalities and school districts.

Hunt explained that on Nov. 5, Judge Christine A. Ward of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County appointed the law firm of Campbell and Levine LLC to act as the receiver for Centax. The receiver is an individual appointed by the court to oversee the final close down of the company and the dissolution of the corporate assets. Attorney Paul J. Cordaro of Campbell and Levine will be the man primarily responsible in the matter.

Hunt also said that he feels the transition is moving in the right direction and Berkheimer has picked up the work at Centax's office that needs to be completed.

In a press release about the receivership appointment, short-term goals include a prompt distribution of Act 32 and other funds held in Centax trust accounts; and liquidate assets and investigate claims held by Centax. The court has required all banks holding trust accounts to cooperate with Cordaro; and barred creditors from filing claims against Centax.

The breakdown of the EIT collector appointed by the Carbon County Tax Collection Committee; as well as a number of other Pennsylvania counties began in late June.

In July, the tax collection committee voted to terminate its contract with Centax as the EIT collector because it failed to process and distribute earned income taxes to municipalities and school districts. They then voted to hire Berkheimer as the interim EIT collector.

In September, Attorney Keith Strohl of the Law Offices of Steckel and Stopp, who the committee hired as its lawyer, updated the group on the claim against Centax's bond.

During that meeting, he told representatives that Centax's bond holder, Travelers, is investigating everything and asked all municipalities and school districts to gather information on any economic damage they suffered as a result of Centax's failure to make payments in a timely manner.

Centax was hired as the countywide EIT tax collector on Sept. 15, 2010, after the county tax collection committee determined that Centax would meet its needs under Act 32, which requires a single tax collector to handle earned income taxes collected. Three other tax collection companies Berkheimer and Associates, Capital Tax Collection Bureau of Harrisburg, and JP Harris Association of Mechanicsburg also submitted proposals to the committee in 2010.

The Carbon County Tax Collection Committee was formed in October 2009 because of Act 32 of 2008, which amends the Local Tax Enabling Act.

Under Act 32, counties were required to form a countywide collection committee, comprised of delegates from each municipality and school district within the county; and hire one tax collector who would be responsible for the collection of earned income tax.

The law states that this reduction in the amount of earned income tax collectors would provide for quicker money turnarounds, which means municipalities and school districts should get paid sooner.

The Carbon County Tax Collection Committee members include delegates from Jim Thorpe, Kidder Township, Penn Forest Township, East Penn Township, Franklin Township, Lehighton, Mahoning Township, Parryville, Weissport, Bowmanstown, Lower Towamensing Township, Palmerton, Towamensing Township, Lansford, Nesquehoning, Summit Hill, Coaldale, East Side, Lausanne Township, Lehigh Township, Packer Township, and Weatherly; as well as Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Palmerton, Panther Valley and Weatherly school districts.

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