Tennessee Town Skips Out on Paying Taxes, Audit Finds

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Local government officials in Tennessee might doggedly pursue you if you don’t pony up your hard-earned tax dollars.

But that doesn’t mean those same bureaucrats must abide by the same standards they impose upon you.

And you, the taxpayer, must pay for the bureaucrats’ sloppiness.

Officials in the Tennessee town of Gates, for instance, didn’t pay payroll taxes last year, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

Auditors said payroll taxes were due June 30 of last year — but town officials didn’t pay them until early October.

Gates is in west Tennessee, in Lauderdale County.

“The Town did not follow the requirements for remitting Federal payroll taxes and incurred penalties that were required to be paid with Town funds,” Comptrollers wrote.

No one at the listed phone number for the town government picked up the phone Wednesday to answer The Tennessee Star’s questions.

In a written response to auditors, however, unidentified town officials blamed their former city recorder for these lapses.

“Former City Recorder (Rachel Isaak) did not pay the payroll taxes as required by law,” Gates’ officials wrote.

“We have a new City Recorder (Jenny Ward) in place since October 2018 to assure these issues are corrected and maintained.”

This is certainly not the only time Comptrollers have caught government employees in Tennessee not paying their taxes.

As The Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2015, several Dyersburg city employees were more than six months late paying their property taxes. Comptrollers at the time said city employees needed to set a better example.

At the time, Property Tax Clerk Gwyn Edmonds said people in Dyersburg generally have about two years to pay their property taxes before city officials put their land up for a tax sale.

Also, as The Tennessee Watchdog reported that year, Comptrollers reported that a town alderman in Ridgeley, Frankie Smith, had $306 in unpaid property taxes.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.
Photo “Gates, Tennessee” by Brian Stansberry. CC BY 4.0.











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