For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Halvonik 717 787-1381
Auditor General Jack Wagner Announces Audit of State Tax Equalization Board
HARRISBURG, Pa., July 23, 2010 - Auditor General Jack Wagner said today that the Department of the Auditor General will conduct a special performance audit of the State Tax Equalization Board.
Wagner said he received requests from several legislators and taxpayers asking him to conduct an audit of the board because of concerns over inaccurate market values of taxable real property being calculated by the board, which could have resulted in taxpayers facing inaccurate and exorbitant property tax increases.
“I am greatly concerned about the possibility of errors by the State Tax Equalization Board,” Wagner said. “The market values are the basis for school districts in determining millage for their budgets and for the Department of Education to distribute state funding, so it is essential that the calculations are accurate.”
The State Tax Equalization Board was established as an independent board by the general assembly in 1947 to ensure equitable distribution of tax funds among the state’s school districts.
The board came under scrutiny recently after it was determined that the board provided miscalculated market values totaling over $300 million to at least four central Pennsylvania school districts. Wagner is also concerned that additional school districts across the state may have received incorrect calculations from the board.
Wagner said the primary objectives of the audit include determining the cause of errors in the board’s data calculations; assessing whether internal controls, policies, and procedures are in place to ensure data is valid, accurate, and complete; and determining whether the board has taken sufficient measures to identify, correct, and communicate invalid reporting to outside entities and to ensure that future reporting is valid. Wagner said his audit will begin in August 2010 and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the Commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts more than 5,000 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s website at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.