by Max Brantley
The Country Club of Little Rock-area home above, owned by retired Alltel CEO Joe Ford, figures in a story I've posted on the Arkansas Reporter section of our website.
The Times — and Assessor Janet Troutman Ward — recently received an anonymous complaint that Ford's home was underappraised for tax purposes. Indeed, the county's appraisal of market value is $691,000 though he bought the home in 2002 for $3 million.
The inquiry led to the discovery that seven other parcels of club neighborhood land, including financier Warren Stephens' home, were also undervalued for tax purposes because of mistakes on land (not house) valuation.
Don't get worked up just yet. All the evidence I've been able to find indicates these are inadvertent mistakes that date back perhaps a decade or more. Furthermore, thanks to the intricacies of state property tax law, the loss in taxes is small — a few hundred dollars per parcel per year, if anything, according to tentative estimates. Ford, for example, could have claimed a freeze in property tax rates in 2003 when he turned 65 and that rate wouldn't have been high because state law pegged it to the 1996 tax bill on the property. In the article, I try to explain.