I-TEAM: Homeowner fighting back after getting surprise tax bill from neighboring city

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VERMILION, Ohio —  The I-Team has found a local homeowner who is fighting back after receiving a whopping back tax bill.

Joann Harris and her husband moved into their Lorain County Home in 2005, and for the past 14 years she thought she knew exactly where her house was located.

“When we bought the house we thought we lived  in Brownhelm Township, there was no question,” Harris said.

But earlier this year, she and her husband received a notice from the Regional Income Tax Agency saying her home is actually located in the city of Vermilion.

“I was very shocked,” Harris said.

She was also told they now owe back taxes for the past four years, which amount to more than $2,500.

“I called R.I.T.A. and city officials and they told me that where my mailbox is and where  my driveway starts, is actually in the township,” Harris said.  “But where my house is located is actually the city.”

She said they do not get city water or sewer services, and can’t understand why she is being forced to pay back taxes.

“We don’t get any benefits of living in the city, I pay for a septic system,” Harris said.

Mayor James Forthofer said R.I.T.A. used new data and determined that the home is located in the city.

“We are sympathetic to her situation, particularly when it is is a surprise,” the mayor told FOX 8. “She didn’t know she lived in the city. It is a far corner but the city none the less.”

The mayor said the city has waived late fees and penalties.

“We have always paid all our taxes but this situation is just not fair,” Harris said. “We are being forced to pay tax dollars for many  things we don’t benefit from and that’s a lot of money.”

The I-Team sent an email to R.I.T.A. but have not yet received a response.

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