Knox mobile home owners confused by tax notices

Knox mobile home owners confused by tax notices

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"This is an eviction notice for not paying my property taxes," Stacey Bettis said as he showed the statement. "This is an eviction notice for not paying my property taxes," Stacey Bettis said as he showed the statement.
"We got a notice on the door and I told my dad, 'Do we need to pay this? Are we going to get evicted?'" Tammy Vaughn said. "We got a notice on the door and I told my dad, 'Do we need to pay this? Are we going to get evicted?'" Tammy Vaughn said.
"We did go to the tax office," Lorrie Bump said. "The girl laughed." "We did go to the tax office," Lorrie Bump said. "The girl laughed."
"Mobile homes are assessed and they are put on the tax roll, but the bill goes to who owns the land," Craig Leuthold, with the Knox County Property Assessors Office, explained. "Mobile homes are assessed and they are put on the tax roll, but the bill goes to who owns the land," Craig Leuthold, with the Knox County Property Assessors Office, explained.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Families who live in mobile home parks are discovering they must pay what's sometimes called a Sit Tax. It is a fee in addition to their rent.

Several families in North Knoxville called 6 On Your Side when they were told they would have to pay the tax or face eviction.

At one time, people who lived in mobile home parks paid one fee. Even if they owned their mobile home, they still paid a rental fee for their space. Often they would not be charged separately for taxes paid by the park.

Times have changed. More and more mobile home park communities are passing that property tax on to their tenants. The fee is often given a different name, and that leaves residents confused and upset.

Stacey Bettis has lived in his home with his wife for eight years. They own the home and have been long-time tenants at the Oak Park community in Halls.

Rent receipts show they have never missed monthly payments, yet now they say they are being kicked out.

"This is an eviction notice for not paying my property taxes," Stacey said as he showed the statement.

The termination notice says the couple owes $189 in back taxes.

Stacey was unclear what taxes the statement was talking about.

"They won't give us any answer. They just say taxes is all they tell us," he said.

Lorrie Bump and Tammy Vaughn own homes in Oak Park as well. They have also received a letter from park management about "a mobile home tax."

"We got a notice on the door and I told my dad, 'Do we need to pay this? Are we going to get evicted?'" Tammy Vaughn said.

Bump's bill reflects a tax payment of more than $100 in 2011, but she doesn't understand what the tax is about.

"Last year it was $121," she said.

"We pay $250 a month in rent," said Vaughn. "I own my mobile home, but I don't own this land."

Both women have lived in the development for six years. It was last year that they first received notices about a tax they had not been charged before.

The residents say they have tried to ask the trailer park management about the bills.

"They're never there," said Vaughn. "I can't never catch her."

Bump had a different result.

"We did go to the tax office," she said. "The girl laughed. She said we weren't the first ones that had been in there. When we talked to the manager here, she said it came from the property tax office, that they did it."

6 On Your Side went to the park office to see if we could get some answers, but there was a padlock on the door.

"Mobile homes are assessed and they are put on the tax roll, but the bill goes to who owns the land," Craig Leuthold, with the Knox County Property Assessors Office, explained. "Then if there is any type of agreement between the mobile home owner and the land owner, that would be between those two parties."

Residents at Little River Mobile Home Park in Blount County said last spring they were being assessed with what was called a pass-through tax.

"I've lived her four years and this has never come up before," said Jan Vananda.

Residents said there was nothing in their lease that mentions a tax.

6 On Your Side learned communities started passing the personal property tax onto home owners. Those who rent their homes are exempt.

Vaughn and Bump say their lease does not mention a tax in addition to their rent.

"I want this to go away," Bump said. 

But it will not going away.

Eventually, we were able get a response. Oak Park owner Sam Miscuraca told 6 On Your Side the county "collects property tax from us. We bill the mobile home owner based on the valuation of their home. Rentals are not charged for taxes."

Stacey Bettis and his wife say they don't want to be evicted. They plan to pay their tax bill.

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