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The city of San Diego could have received between $6.4 million and $29.7 million more in property taxes over the last three years simply by collecting the money it was owed, a wide-ranging audit found last week.

The finding was within a 70-page report released by the City Auditor’s Office on Friday. Nearly a year in the making, the audit evaluated all the city’s major sources of money to make sure it’s receiving everything it should.

This audit is one of the centerpieces of a city task force that is expected to make a case for new taxes or fees by June. Of course, it would help if the city gets the money it’s supposed to now.

Property taxes are the city’s largest revenue source with nearly $300 million collected last year. The audit found the city could have received more money by using a county plan that guarantees the city the amount of property taxes it bills each year. The primary downside of that method is that the city would not get overdue taxes and fees once they’re collected.

Overall, the auditor determined the city needed better coordination with other government tax collectors to make sure it receives all its revenue:

We found that the City administration performs basic actions to verify that revenue payments received are accurate, such as auditing the [hotel-room tax] payees or using consultants to monitor sales tax payments. However, the City administration needs to take immediate actions to maximize major revenue collected by developing appropriate partnerships with other government entities, take pro-active and preventative steps to ensure full sales tax and business license payments, and improving revenue audit methodology. By so doing, the City can ensure that it receives all the major revenues that it is entitled to receive.

— LIAM DILLON

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