Payday Loan Headquarters Avoids Property Taxes - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Putnam Property Assessor

Payday Loan Headquarters Avoids Property Taxes

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by Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- A prominent business owner and political fundraiser has not paid property taxes on his corporate headquarters in at least eight years, NewsChannel 5 has discovered.

Garry McNabb is the CEO and owner of Cash Express LLC, which has locations across the South. He has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to democratic and republican candidates. The corporate office of Cash Express LLC. is in Cookeville.

But Putnam County property records have listed the office building as being owned by the state of Tennessee -- which is exempt from all property taxes.

No one has paid property taxes on the building since McNabb and three others bought it in 2004.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked McNabb "Why haven't you paid property taxes on that property?"

McNabb responded, "Because the state has never sent me a bill."

The property deed shows McNabb and others bought the building, which used to be an unemployment office, from the state of Tennessee.

But neither McNabb nor his partners registered the deed, so the building kept appearing on the tax rolls as state property.  

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Wouldn't it be the right thing to do, to file the deed?"

"There's no law that says I have to file it," McNabb answered.

"So have you deliberately not filed the deed, so you wouldn't have to pay taxes?" we asked.

"No, sir,  I just chose not to file it," McNabb said.

"Which means you did not have to pay taxes," we noted.

McNabb said, "I've got partners in it.  Some of them didn't want people to know they owned this property."

There is no law which requires people to file a deed, but there's also no law requiring counties to send a tax bill.

It is up to property owners to know what properties they own.

McNabb is a certified public accountant.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "As an accountant, didn't you know that for eight years you weren't paying property taxes on your corporate headquarters?"

McNabb responded, "Sir, I didn't know that. If they had sent me a bill I'd have paid it."

But McNabb is not just an accountant. He oversees hundreds of millions of dollars as a member of the Tennessee Education Lottery Board.

"I'm on the Lottery Board," McNabb said.  "I don't get paid a dime for being on the board. Matter of fact, I don't even turn in my expenses.  I look at that as a small contribution towards the education of the children of the state of Tennessee."

County officials say the unpaid tax bill for the property since 2004 is more than $50,000.

Putnam County could use the money. It recently raised property taxes, in part, to repair a high school deemed a fire hazard.

"So, I don't see how the Lottery Board has anything to do with this other than you are trying to slander me and the lottery, and I resent that, sir," McNabb said.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates responded, "It is about the education of children.  Here you have property taxes that go toward schools in Putnam County. You have schools in Putnam County that need money, and that money hasn't been going to those kids."

McNabb responded, "All you have to do is send me a bill and I will gladly pay it."

The county is about to send a total bill for more than $119,000.  Ironically, for the payday lender, the total bill includes more than $67,000 in penalties and interest.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "What if one of your clients hadn't paid you for eight years?"

McNabb responded, "Well, have I done anything wrong by not recording the deed?"

NewsChannel 5 Investigates started to ask, "Do you.."

McNabb interjected, "No sir, answer my question if you don't mind. You are asking me questions, can I not ask you questions?"

NewsChannel 5 Investigates said, "You haven't paid property taxes for eight years. Do you think you've done anything wrong?"

McNabb answered, "No, sir, I don't."

The state comptroller's office just found a little used law that requires people who buy tax exempt property to notify the county property assessor.

So it's possible McNabb and his partners did do something wrong if they didn't notify former assessor Rhonda Chaffin.

Click here to view the deed and real estate assessment data from the State of Tennessee for the propoerty. 

Email: bhall@newschannel5.com

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