If a clerk refuses to record a transfer after the mortgage has already been disbursed, and a lien is filed between the date that the clerk refuses the first attempt at recording and the date that the proper form is filed and the documents are accepted, I don’t think a $50 fee will be the worst of our worries.
Dear Mr. Farnham – again, thank you for your response. I do understand you have probably been inundated with inquiries. You now allude to a possible fee being levied for truly intransigent non-compliance. I still have not seen the regulation that insists that Town Clerks have the authority to reject based on an “out-dated” form, nor have I seen a regulation that imbues the Tax Dept with authority to levy a penalty fee for non-compliance. I would very sincerely like to see those statutes or regulations.
Respectfully – Susie Haughwout
The misinformation about the need to continue printing the property transfer returns was unfortunate and has been addressed with the parties involved and on the bar association listserv. Due to a high volume of inquiries I had requested help addressing some of the myVTax related questions and that one slipped through my review.
In response to Susie below – as I stated I would exhaust every opportunity to work with the Towns and not place an undue burden on the clerks before considering the levy of any fee. A fee would only be used in a situation where there is a clear refusal to work together in a reasonable manner over a long period of time. I believe that a court would apply a similar standard before levying a fee – attempt to solicit compliance until there is a clear pattern of refusal. I have a great deal of respect for municipal officials and want to do everything I can to make life easier for Vermonters, Town Officials, and my own staff.
I understand that communication around the myVTax launch has not been as clear and timely as it could have been but the Department has sent out emails to all town contact addresses over the last month – it is possible that some of our email addresses may be bad or that those emails were pushed into spam or junk folders. We are working on compiling all of the changes we are making to the process based on feedback we’ve received from attorneys, listers, and clerks and will share that when it is ready. I would also like to point out that we had a focus group which was comprised of clerks, listers, assessors, and real estate professionals and we incorporated feedback all through the development process.
At this point I can update you on the following:
· We are actively developing a shorter property transfer tax return to print out for land recording purposes – this new version will address both confidentiality and redaction concerns as well as vault space issues without losing information relevant to the deeds. After that is completed, I am going to re-evaluate the paper version and see if anything can be done with that form.
· Prior to that new version being released the phone number and email information will not print on the town version and the fields are being removed from the paper version; this change is scheduled be in place by the end of the week.
· There are other pieces of development in progress which will be able to share more detail on once our development teams have evaluated them and given us a timeline
· Listers have access to all recorded property transfer tax returns, not just for their town but for all of Vermont, through their myVTax logins (if they don’t have a login yet they will need to contact the Department at 828-0428 to get one set up) and, although this doesn’t affect the existing statutory requirements, the Department would hope that once everyone is comfortable with using myVTax for that purpose it would be appropriate for a conversation to happen about updating the statute.
· As a reminder – the Department did not turn off ePTTR as we are aware it might take some time for deeds to come in for returns submitted in November and early December. If you receive a return with a deed that was printed from ePTTR you can still go into that system to complete the recording and send the electronic return to the Department.
myVTax guide designed for town clerks: http://tax.vermont.gov/sites/tax/files/documents/myVTaxGuidePropertyTransferTax.Return.pdf
Douglas R. Farnham | Director
Property Valuation & Review | Vermont Department of Taxes
802-828-6829 | www.tax.vermont.gov
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If this is how it will really be into the future, the statute that Clerks must “deliver” PTTRs to Listers needs to be changed. In this electronic world, Listers should be able to get their own portal with password and go view the Clerk-completed returns at will. No more need for Clerks to “deliver” hard copies.
Now the deeds are coming without the PTTR[‘s attached, and the instruction was to download from the myvtax site..lovely
Vernon Town Clerk
567 Governor Hunt Road
Vernon, VT 05354
Fellow clerks – I wasn’t going to post this exchange with Mr. Farnham until he responded to my second email. He doesn’t seem inclined to answer at this point, so I’ll post anyway. Susie
Dear Mr. Farnham – first, thanks for your response. I believe this statute has been in place prior to either the initiation of the E-PTTR system or the new myVTax system. In my mind it generally refers to a transfer tax return, filled out with all the necessary information. I’d like to see the updated regulation that empowers clerks with the specific authority/responsibility to reject a PTTR if it is turned in on, for lack of better term, a so-called out-dated form. You can probably guess that I sincerely question that either a specific statute or regulation exists, but if it does I would very much like to read it.
I don’t believe a judge would impose a fine on a clerk who accepted an out-dated form. Isn’t that the test?
Earnestly - Susie
Below is the citation I was basing my statement on. My communication earlier did not speak to the fines at all because I would exhaust every available option working with a town clerk and try to come to an understanding about the recording of property transfer returns before I resorted to fining a town clerk (particularly during a transition period like this one). Growing up in a small town in Vermont I understand how busy clerks can be and how central their role is in the town office - I always strive for the relationship between my Division and the Clerks to be a positive one.
Please don’t hesitate if you have any further questions.
· § 9608. Prohibition against certain recordings
(a) Except as to transfers which are exempt pursuant to subdivision 9603(17) of this title, no town clerk shall record, or receive for recording, any deed to which is not attached a properly executed transfer tax return, complete and regular on its face, and a certificate in the form prescribed by the Natural Resources Board and the Commissioner of Taxes that the conveyance of the real property and any development thereon by the seller is in compliance with or exempt from the provisions of 10 V.S.A. chapter 151. The certificate shall indicate whether or not the conveyance creates the partition or division of land. If the conveyance creates a partition or division of land, there shall be appended the current "Act 250 Disclosure Statement," required by 10 V.S.A. § 6007. A town clerk who violates this section shall be fined $50.00 for the first such offense and $100.00 for each subsequent offense. A person who purposely or knowingly falsifies any statement contained in the certificate required is punishable by fine of not more than $500.00 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
(b) A person who makes a false certification under this section shall be liable for damages caused by that false certification, in addition to any existing liability created under the common law. (Added 1967, No. 146, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1968; amended 1969, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 30, eff. April 4, 1970; 1969, No. 291 (Adj. Sess.), § 16, eff. 60 days after April 9, 1970; 1971, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1981, No. 38, § 3, eff. April 21, 1981; 1981, No. 223 (Adj. Sess.), § 23, 1987, No. 64, § 4; 1991, No. 111, § 9; 2003, No. 115 (Adj. Sess.), § 118, eff. Jan. 31, 2005; 2009, No. 160 (Adj. Sess.), § 19; 2013, No. 11, § 25; 2013, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 21, eff. June 4, 2014.)
Dear Mr. Farnham – I would very much appreciate the information I mentioned below. Thank you, Susie Haughwout
I would like to see the citation for either a statute or specific regulation that gives clerks this “responsibility”.
· Clerks are responsible for ensuring that the proper form was used by comparing the closing date to the form version; the fact sheet containing all of the effective dates is found here: http://tax.vermont.gov/research-and-reports/publications/fact-sheets/property-owners. We are updating the sheet to reflect the new form version, and will send it out to muninet once updated. In the meantime, the Department will deal with any issues that arise from an improper form submission. The Department expects clerks to reject forms with incorrect closing dates according to the updated fact sheet.
Wilmington Town Clerk
P. O. Box 217
Wilmington, VT 05363
Town Website: www.wilmingtonvermont.us
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