You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Ohio county admits people got tax break they didn't deserve

Auditor pledges review after I-Team presented information to the county.

A Florida-based company that owns an office park in Miami Twp. is eligible for more than $8,000 a year in tax credits meant for owner-occupied homes.

A Kettering company that purchases distressed real estate gets the owner-occupied tax credit on 65 properties, including on its offices on South Dixie Drive.

A Pennsylvania-based company that owns an apartment complex on Riverside Drive in Dayton gets a $1,000 a year tax break through the credit.

None of these examples fit the description of who the tax break was designed to benefit: people who live in their own homes. Yet they are among thousands of Montgomery County properties that show up on tax records as getting a tax break they may not deserve.

An I-Team investigation found tax credits were claimed by thousands of registered rentals, business properties or people who claim a primary residence on more than one property.

RELATED: Overturned convictions could cost Ohio more under budget proposal

Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith pledged a “comprehensive review” of the owner-occupancy tax credit program after the I-Team presented the information to his office.

“It’s wrong any time somebody’s getting a tax break they don’t deserve and others do deserve,” Keith said in an interview. “I’ve directed my staff to do a thorough and complete review of this program and the rental registration program and how those two programs interact.”

“If there’s things we need to do to improve our processes to make sure that only qualified people are getting those reductions, then we’re going to identify those steps and we’re going to be taking corrective action.”

RELATED: 9th inmate sues Montgomery County Jail

West Dayton resident Kelly Livers said she is very interested to see what Keith’s review finds. She said she complained about the issue to the county auditor’s office but wasn’t taken seriously until she contacted the I-Team.

“Somebody isn’t doing their job,” she said. “We’re held accountable to pay our taxes. They’re held accountable to do the bookkeeping correctly.”

3,600 rentals getting credit

The owner-occupancy credit is a 2.5 percent property tax reduction meant to ease the tax burden for homeowners. It was first created in 1979 and later amended to only apply to tax levies created prior to November 2013.

The state of Ohio reimburses local governments for the reduction.

RELATED: Prison food contractor overcharged on meals

For most homeowners, the credit amounts to less than $100 a year. But its cumulative impact to the county’s tax rolls is more than $11 million. Of that, the I-Team’s investigation calls into question hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of tax breaks. For example:

  • The I-Team found 4,949 property owners who appear to own more than one property claimed as a primary residence for tax purposes. The total value of these tax reductions: $680,120.
  • 3,616 properties are registered with the county as rental properties yet receive tax credits worth nearly $200,000 combined.
  • The listed owners of 1,629 properties have the acronym LLC in their names, suggesting they are owned by limited liability corporations. The combined owner-occupied tax credit on these properties is $93,224.

Doug Trout, director of real estate at the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office, said the tax credit should not be going to companies or rental properties. 

“When that was brought up, we started looking at it,” he said. “Every time a property is transferred a person has to let us know, under penalty of perjury, whether they are occupying that property or they are not.”

RELATED: RTA to allow guns on buses

He said his office reviews property transfers every year and removes thousands of ineligible properties from receiving the tax credit.

More than 146,000 properties currently claim the credit.

Trout said properties that changed hands this year and last year would hopefully be caught by a routine audit at the end of this year and changed before the tax bills go out in 2018.

“We look at it on an annual basis and when we become aware of issue related to that we have legal mechanism, and we constantly strive to improve our processes to make sure we have the most accurate data possible,” he said.

RELATED: Women traveling longer distances for abortions

‘I’ll look into it’

Many of the properties identified by the I-Team’s analysis changed hands years ago, not just in the last year or so.

AZZAPN LLC, the national property management company based in Miami Beach that is getting an $8,000 tax credit on the Miami Twp. office park, purchased that property in 2012.

AZZAPN owner Tom Sullivan said he was unaware of the tax issue.

“I’ll look into it,” he said. “Any costs on the buildings that are rented get passed onto the tenant.”

Peter Julian, CEO of Octagon Holdings LLC, the Kettering company that claimed the credit on 65 properties, also said he “had no idea.”

RELATED: Kirkersville killer was released without a hearing

Julian said most of the homes his company owns likely were owner-occupied at one time but were then purchased from a bank or the government through foreclosure proceedings. He said most are rentals, though they haven’t yet been added to the county’s rental registry.

Altogether, the 65 properties received more than $2,000 in owner-occupied tax credits.

Julian said the issue should be reviewed and fixed if necessary.

“If the county can get some additional money, we shouldn’t get the benefit of the tax break or credit,” he said.

‘That’s a vacant home’

Kelly Livers began digging into her neighbor’s property records while contesting the value or her own West Dayton home. In just the few blocks around her lot she found 90 vacant, rental or business properties getting owner-occupied tax credits.

Last week, Livers pointed out some of the properties to a reporter, including several with overgrown weeds jutting out of the foundation and boards covering doors and windows.

RELATED: Are politicians becoming targets?

“That one. That one. That one. This one. This one. This one. This one, and those two over there are all vacant, and the one across the street, are all vacant homes,” she said. “That’s a vacant home that’s been vacant for at least three years, had all the utilities shut off a long time ago.”

“If (the county) can’t keep their accounting straight on the vacancies and who’s occupying them, then how are they keeping the rest of it straight?” she said.

Auditor’s office officials say some of the mistakes may be innocent: Someone buying a rental property or renting out their home and being unaware of the rules, or someone who lives in part of a commercial or rental property.

The I-Team analysis did not include vacant homes, which officials say pose a unique challenge because vacancy is not reflected in the tax roll.

The auditor’s office has a department that processes registration of rental properties, as state law requires for large counties, but there’s been no effort made to compare the names on rental registrations with those claiming owner-occupancy credits.

“There will be,” Trout said.

RELATED: Effort to change how Ohio draws districts for Congress underway

‘Many erroneous forms’

There is some evidence the number of improper claims extends beyond Montgomery County.

A 2014 I-Team investigation found hundreds of Clark County property owners who appeared to be receiving the tax credit on multiple properties, totaling thousands of dollars in questionable tax breaks.

Ron Alban, an activist who founded a group called Citizens for a Better Kettering, said the information uncovered by the auditor’s office should be referred to the county prosecutor. The state auditor should also look to see if the same pattern occurs in other counties.

RELATED: Pregnant inmates have prisons scrambling to provide care

“We live in a society based upon rule of law, and what the Dayton Daily News has uncovered is apparently many erroneous forms have been filed, with the possibility some of them have even perhaps been fraudulently filed,” he said.

“To the extent the facts show back taxes are owed, I would think it would be appropriate to try to collect those back taxes.”

Trout said there is a mechanism for that.

“If we determine that individuals are receiving owner-occupancy and they are not residing there, we do have the ability to go back and recoup that charge,” he said.

“We haven’t done that, but we have that ability.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Turning a page on books about dogs
Turning a page on books about dogs

When my husband, Ed, and I adopted Teddy in 2014, we received numerous “dog” books from family and friends. RELATED » Karin Spicer on letting a dog sleep in owners’ bed The books ranged from understanding behavior (American College of Veterinary Behaviorists “Decoding Your Dog”) to dog games and tricks (Sophie Collins&rsquo...
BET Awards 2017: What time, what channel, who is nominated, performing
BET Awards 2017: What time, what channel, who is nominated, performing

Some of the biggest artists in rap, hip hop, pop, R&B, movies and TV will be at the BET Awards on Sunday. Remy Ma, DJ Khaled, New Edition and more  are scheduled to be at the show at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.  Here’s what you need to know before the show: What time: 8 p.m. ET What channel: BET, with live streams on
Butler County sheriff warns of bond scam
Butler County sheriff warns of bond scam

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones is warning the public that a scam artist is trying to trick people into paying a bond that they do not owe. Jones announced that a victim of a recent scam arrived at the sheriff’s office looking for Sgt. Owens and stated he had paid his fines and was there to meet him. “He indicated that he had received...
Housing concept hits a wall
Housing concept hits a wall

Local developer Steve Bruns’ proposal to offer what he described as “unique” European-style Tudor homes in a Tipp City subdivision was stalled by existing homeowners. RELATED » Scoreboard ordinance proposed More than 50 of the current residents of the Rosewood Creek subdivision located near Peters Road at the city’s western...
Advocates want more from Hamilton solar power plan
Advocates want more from Hamilton solar power plan

Hamilton, which operates its own utilities, is moving toward buying electricity from residents who generate solar power on their properties, and this week held a public-input meeting to see what people think about the rules the city may implement. Those who attended the meeting said they were glad Hamilton will be buying the solar power, but expressed...
More Stories