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[anderson lake]Greenville councilman must pay $55.6K in back taxes for Anderson lake house, court rules

2021-07-08

  Greenville County Councilman Ennis Fant owes nearly $56,000 in property taxes in Anderson County after the state’s Administrative Law Court found that he claimed a lake house near Hartwell Lake as his primary residence for 10 years while he also claimed houses in Greenville County as his official residences.

  During that time period, as Fant ran for Greenville County Council and listed a Greenville home on Ghana Court as his primary residence, he also paid taxes in Anderson County with the lake house listed as his primary residence.

  Greenville Health

  By Nathaniel Cary

  ncary@postandcourier.com

  Fant paid the 4 percent property tax rate on?the Anderson County residence from 2009 to 2018 but should have paid the 6 percent tax rate for property that isn’t a person’s domicile, or primary residence, the court found.

  In an order dated May 27, Administrative Law Judge Phillip Lenski ordered Fant to pay the difference between the two tax rates for the entire period plus penalties for a total of nearly $72,000. Fant has already paid the $16,000 in penalties and owes $55,600, according to the court order. The court ruled he didn’t owe an additional $8,000 in late fees.

  Fant declined comment on the evening of June 1 other than to say he planned to ask the judge to reconsider his decision and would appeal if the decision stands.?

  Greenville Politics

  By Nathaniel Cary

  ncary@postandcourier.com

  The Anderson County Tax Assessor began to investigate Fant’s domicile after receiving a tip in 2019 from a resident who asked how Fant could legally claim the home on Gareloch Lane in Anderson as his primary address while he ran for election in Greenville County.

  After an audit, the assessor’s office charged the back taxes plus nonpayment penalties and late fees to Fant, who contested the ruling. Anderson County’s Board of Assessment Appeals heard Fant’s case in December 2019 and issued its ruling in May 2020 saying Fant had claimed the residence as his primary home while he also claimed a home in Greenville as his residence.

  Fant appealed to the Administrative Law Court, and the court heard the case in January. Fant sought to limit the amount of taxes owed to three years, saying state law prohibited collection of taxes beyond three years. Lenski ruled that the three-year limit applies if the collecting agency is at fault, but not if the agency has been misled or “if ‘there is fraudulent intent to evade the taxes’ or ‘the taxpayer failed to file a return or document as required by law.’”

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  Greenville Business

  By Nathaniel Cary

  ncary@postandcourier.com

  Fant never filed a document with Anderson County to alert the county that he switched his primary residence to Greenville in 2016 when he ran for County Council, the assessor told the court. The court found that Fant couldn’t show that he had lived at the home in Anderson County beyond 2008, when he first listed a home in Greenville as his primary address. Fant had a Greenville County address listed on his driver’s license, filed income taxes from a Greenville address and paid his vehicle taxes in Greenville, the court found.

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  Fant purchased the 2,800-square-foot lake house in Anderson in 1999 and it was correctly listed as his primary residence until 2008, when he claimed a home on Smokerise Court in Greenville as his domicile.

  He paid a 4 percent tax rate on each house until 2016 and then paid a 4 percent tax rate on the Ghana Drive house beginning in 2016 while still claiming the Anderson County home as a primary residence. Fant has said he put the home on Smokerise Court into a family trust in 2012 but reapplied for that home as a primary residence in 2013.

  He has since put the Anderson County home into a trust as well.

  Greenville Business

  By Nathaniel Cary

  ncary@postandcourier.com

  Last year, Fant told The Greenville News he didn’t intend to pay the amount owed.

  “You think I’m going to ever pay those $60,000 really?” he said.

  But the court found that Fant had failed to “carry his burden” to show he was entitled to the special 4 percent tax rate in Anderson and that he should be penalized for failing to notify the Anderson County assessor of his change in primary residence in 2008.

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