More than $1.14 million in property tax overpayments that went unclaimed by hundreds of individuals and businesses in Riverside County was deposited into the county's general fund today by the Board of Supervisors, several of whom expressed regret that the money couldn't be returned to taxpayers.
``I can't help but wonder what we're not doing to contact these taxpayers,'' said Supervisor Kevin Jeffries. ``We have committees, commissions and everything else under the sun to collect fees. Maybe it's time we appoint somebody to contact these folks so we can get them their money.''
In a 5-0 vote, the Board of Supervisors authorized county Treasurer-Tax Collector Don Kent to take the unclaimed money and place into an active account for the county's discretionary use.'
However, Jeffries, Supervisors John Benoit, Jeff Stone and John Tavaglione all wondered why the roughly 1,800 prospective claimants to the funds didn't make an effort to get the money rightfully owed them.
``My office has taken it upon itself to go through the list and make phone calls to reach these people, focusing first on those in my district,'' Stone said. ``Unfortunately, we don't have the resources to just take a check and drop it off.''
Overpayments ranged from $10 to $36,000 and mainly covered 2004 to 2008, according to Treasurer-Tax Collector documents.
Several companies and individuals were listed multiple times. Familiar names on the list included Chase Bank, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, GMAC Financing, KB Home, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Pulte Homes and the city of Riverside.
The county's efforts to reach them by mail failed, and none apparently saw the newspaper advertisements between May 1 and Aug. 1 announcing that the county was seeking to return the money, which under state law has to be held in abeyance for four years.
Kent said that if a person or business were to come forward and request the money back now, his office would ``take a look'' at the situation, but there would be no guarantees since all deadlines have passed.
The Treasurer-Tax Collector maintains a list of people and businesses eligible for refunds on its website: http://www.countytreasurer.org/unclaimed_search.aspx.