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Nielsen is demanding $800K property-tax refund from Pinellas County due to accounting error

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Global marketing research company Nielsen is demanding a refund of thousands in Pinellas County property taxes after the company discovered an accounting error.

On March 10, the New York-based firm filed suit against Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty, Tax Collector Charles Thomas and Leon Biegalski, who serves as executive director of the Florida Department of Revenue.

Nielsen is asking for $800,000 returned from the $2-million paid in Pinellas County property taxes for the years 2013 and 2014 for its building at 501 Brooker Creek Blvd. in Oldsmar.

The company behind Nielsen ratings says the overpayment was due to a bookkeeping error.

The overpayment, Nielsen claims, was based on an accounting error connected to its 2010 corporate merger. After the merger, staff had miscoded its “Claritas” asset as machinery and equipment – a taxable category – and not capitalization of goodwill, which is tax exempt.

In January 2017, Nielsen finalized the sale of its Claritas subsidiary, which a provides consumer and demographic segmentation analysis for marketers.

Documents filed with the lawsuit show the company began overpaying county property taxes in 2011. However, the statute of limitations on refunds is four years, so Nielsen is not requesting a refund that year.

The company argues it overpaid by $468,252 in 2012, but it is not requesting a refund, suggesting it may have received a refund for that overpayment. Documents also show that Nielsen overpaid in the tax year 2015, but the lawsuit does not specify why they didn’t request a refund for that year.

Per court documents, Nielsen alleges it discovered the error in 2015 and afterward sought a refund from the Pinellas Value Adjustment Board. Although the company said local magistrate was sympathetic, the county denied the refund request for tax years 2013 and 2014.

Nielsen is now asking the courts to intervene.


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