Centax handler forms strategy for complicated refunds

BY BILL WELLOCK
Times-Shamrock Writer

The law firm in charge of a fallen tax collector is trying to bring old accounts down to zero.
One strategy: Give up an attempt to reconcile some old, complicated refunds.

The receiver from Campbell & Levine, a Pittsburgh-based law firm, must deal with several different accounts from The Central Tax Bureau of Pennsylvania, better known as Centax or the Don Wilkinson Agency. Centax went out of business in 2012 after failing to distribute earned income tax refunds on time in compliance with a new state law.

A motion filed in Allegheny County court by Campbell & Levine on March 7 offers recommendations for dealing with each account. The firm is asking a judge to approve its plan for winding down Centax’s operations.

One account left over is a so-called “refund account” for income tax refunds owed before 2011. According to the motion, about $747,000 is left in that account, and the receiver says disbursing that money is not worth the resources the job requires.

So much money built up in the account over time because Centax deposited too much money into the account, taxpayers didn’t cash checks and checks never got delivered to the people they were supposed to go to, according to the motion.

“The bottom line is these remaining funds cannot be identified or traced to a particular taxpayer without devoting a significant amount of time and expense, and even then the Receiver believes that a significant amount of these funds cannot be identified or traced,” the motion reads.

Campbell and Levine said in the motion that they received fewer than 10 calls from taxpayers looking for those old refunds.

The receiver’s proposal would transfer $400,000 into the account to Berkheimer, another tax collection agency, which would use that money to eliminate shortfalls from 2011 income tax accounts.

The rest of the money, a little more than $347,000, would go to a general fund and be distributed according to a list of priorities set in the court order that put Campbell and Levine in charge of reconciling Centax’s accounts.

That action only affects people across the state owed refunds from before 2011, not anyone waiting for a 2011 refund. In fact, the motion says anyone who received a dishonored check related to a 2011 income tax refund will receive a replacement check from Berkheimer.

An attempt to reach Paul Cordaro, an attorney with Campbell & Levine, was unsuccessful Wednesday.

Anyone who believes they might be owed money by Centax can check on the state treasury’s website, www.patreasury.gov/unclaimed and following the instructions on the site.