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Taxing evasion

Heath Hamacher//October 11, 2017

Taxing evasion

Heath Hamacher//October 11, 2017

Defendant Teresa Beal was not pleased when Watauga County foreclosed upon and sold her rental property without, as she puts it, doing its due diligence to locate her and personally talk to her about her delinquent property taxes.

Instead, Beal avers, the county scurried to the newspapers and served her via publication before holding the sneaky foreclosure sale.

Sure, she’d listed only a P.O. Box as an address of record, moved out of the county, and changed her last name without notifying county officials, but Beal maintains that it was “common knowledge” where she could be found.

In 2013, tax collectors were looking for Beal when she called the county and agreed to a payment plan. As a surefire means of contacting her in the future, Beal provided a — fax number.

That year, Beal made two payments. She made another in May 2014 before officials say she assumed facsimile silence and went off the grid.

The county sent collection notices (which were ultimately returned) to the P.O. Box, published multiple notices in the local paper, and fruitlessly searched public records for clues to Beal’s whereabouts before filing its complaint and, in May 2016, selling the property.

Miraculously, Beal reappeared.

Court records show that she called the county attorney just weeks after the sale was confirmed, grumbling that she hadn’t been notified. She wondered why she was never served with a foreclosure complaint, adding that the P.O. Box was no longer a valid address and, oh, by the way, she was now Teresa Beal Roten.

Long story short, Beal…Roten moved to set aside the entry of default and foreclosure sale, and the Court of Appeals politely declined to do so.

The court found that despite the arguments of the Appellant Formerly Known as Beal that her whereabouts were common knowledge, the record suggests that she “appears to have made every effort to purposefully conceal exactly that fact.”

“In other words, defendant will not now be heard to complain on appeal about lack of notice where she failed in the first place to provide notice to the County Tax Listing Office that she had changed her name and moved to another county,” Judge Wanda Bryant wrote.

Sidebar is not privy to any inside knowledge of the defendant or her situation, but it sure seems like it’d be more taxing to go all Witness Protection Program than to just play nice with county collectors.


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