Audit: Former Clinton-Highland fire district fiscal officer failed to remit taxes

The Times-Gazette

The former fiscal officer of the Clinton-Highland Joint Fire District in Clinton County failed to remit withheld federal income taxes which resulted in late fees and penalties totaling $22,559, according to an audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.

Because the fees and penalties do not constitute a public purpose, findings for recovery were issued against Sidney Clay in the amount of $22,559. During the 2009-16 period, Clay properly withheld income taxes due to the City of Wilmington, the State of Ohio and the Internal Revenue Service but never forwarded those taxes as required by law.

The actual audit states, “During the 2009-2016 calendar years, Sidney Clay withheld, as required, federal income tax, Medicare, state income tax, local income tax, and school district income tax contributions from the earnings of each district employee. However, Sidney Clay failed to transmit any of those funds to the appropriate entity, agency, system or fund. As a result, Clinton Highland Joint Fire District incurred $22,559 in penalties and interest charges from the federal government.”

The audit adds, “At this time the total amount in penalties and interest paid to the federal government from Clinton Highland Joint Fire District is $22,559. The interest and penalties assessed against the District serve no proper public purpose for the District and could have been avoided had the funds been remitted as required by law.”

“This is normally a fairly simple process: A fiscal officer withholds funds as required by law and remits them to the appropriate taxing authorities,” Yost said in a press release. “This involves Step 1 and Step 2. Taking the first step but failing to take the second does not get the job done, and puts taxpayers on the hook for penalties.”

The withheld taxes have been remitted to the governments as required.

“This was sloppy, and taxpayers deserve better,” Yost said. “Leaders within the district need to establish better internal controls to end this perennial problem.”

A full copy of the report is available online.

The Times-Gazette