Sheriff's report: Treasurer's employees prepared tax returns on side during work day

Tax preparation software installed on five county-owned computers was used by Beaufort County Treasurer's Office employees to do tax returns for hundreds of friends, relatives and other department employees, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office incident report.

The software was discovered on four computers used by Treasurer's Office employees and one computer used by an employee in staff services. The computers were seized by the Sheriff's Office in its investigation of Casaundra White, the former Treasurer's Office employee charged May 12 with allegedly stealing $210,000 from public accounts.

The report said the programs were used during county business hours by department employees who "appear to have been doing personal tax returns for numerous different people while they were being paid by Beaufort County."

Though four employees acknowledged using the software to do tax returns, they said they did not prepare the returns for pay or on county time, the report said. Treasurer Joy Logan also denied the employees were paid or worked on tax returns while being paid by the county.

Jane Owens, a Treasurer's Office employee, told investigators that when she informed Logan that she had nothing to do at work, Logan "gave (Owens) the TurboTax program ... and told her she could do personal taxes for people while she was at work being paid by the county," according to the report.

The hard drive of one of the confiscated computers contained more than 100 tax returns filed between 2002 and 2009.

Logan told investigators she purchased the software in 2004 to help a part-time college student working in the office file her taxes, she said Wednesday. Logan later instructed county staff to install it on several other office computers.

Logan said employees were only to do the taxes of "other employees and maybe some family members" while at work, and that she did not know some employees had done so many returns, according to the report.

Sheriff P.J. Tanner said Treasurer's Office employees did not break the law but their actions may have violated county policy.

County administrator Gary Kubic said he is reviewing the situation.

"We will look at all county policies and Treasurer's Office policies to ensure that public equipment was not used for private benefit," Kubic said. "We also want to try to determine how much time was spent on this activity that should be been spent processing tax collections."