$104,000 tax refund - put a ribbon on it

June 27, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Imagine getting a $104,000 tax refund.

That's what C.M. Offray & Son Inc., also known as Maryland Ribbon, will get shortly from the city of Hagerstown.

The ribbon manufacturing company overvalued its personal property on tax returns for 1995, 1996 and 1997, said Edward Muth, administrator at the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

The company corrected its error in late 1997 by filing an amended tax return, he said.

The adjustment dramatically lowered Maryland Ribbon's personal property assessment.

According to Muth, the company's assessments dropped from $5.2 million to $3.6 million in 1995, from $5.3 million to $3.3 million in 1996 and from $5.1 million to $2.9 million in 1997.

The tax office has confirmed that the new assessments are accurate, he said.

That means bad news for the city of Hagerstown, said Finance Director Al Martin.

"Unfortunately, it amounts to about $35,000 a year for the past three years," he said.


Money for the refund will come out of this year's budget, he said.

It's not unusual for the city to refund taxes of $20,000 to $30,000 a year, he said. Wal-Mart and Gold Bond have been past recipients.

"Normally, it's not of this magnitude," Martin said.

But statewide, refunds that large are not unusual, Muth said.

In this case, the state doesn't owe Offray any money because the state doesn't charge a personal property tax.

The state determines assessments and collects even those taxes that are set at the local level.

James Sutherland, Maryland Ribbon's executive vice president of manufacturing, was not available for comment about the refund.

The company, which expanded last year with a new 96,000-square-foot-building at Willow Circle, employs about 600 people.

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