Surprised by outcome of delayed county tax bill

To the editor:

A funny thing happened to me recently that I thought I would share for your amusement. It turns out that the tax assessing office made a mistake and changed my address so that I never received by real estate tax bill. By the time I realized that I had not received them, and went in to the office, I was assessed penalties, interest, and “fees” totaling $86.51. I asked if they could waive those fees since it was their mistake. They said “no,” so I sent a request to the commissioners. Here is the response I received, not from them, but from an attorney:

“I was asked by the County Commissioners to respond to your Feb. 24, 2014, letter regarding your 2013 real estate taxes.

“Thank you for helping the Assessor’s Office maintain its records by bringing to their attention the wrong address on your tax notices. Although every effort is made to keep the records accurate and current, errors do occur and go unnoticed until someone brings them to the office’s attention.

“Unfortunately, the assessment laws do not permit the County Tax Claim Bureau to waive penalties and fees in this instance. A portion of the law specifically states that ‘failure to receive notice shall not relieve any taxpayer from the payment of any taxes imposed by any taxing district, and such taxpayer shall be charged with his taxes as though he has received the notice.’ Consequently, the bureau is required by statute to collect the $86.51 which you asked to be waived.”

What a hoot! We pay our taxes to these people to do a job, and when they screw up all they do is pass the buck around until it lands back in the taxpayer’s lap. Then they have the gall to thank me for helping them do their job correctly and stiff me with the bill. Why pay them to do a job if ultimately it’s my responsibility? On top of that, they had to pay an attorney to respond, which I’m sure cost more than it would have to just refund my fines. But of course it’s not their money, but mine that they are wasting.

And far be it for a politician to admit that they were wrong and apologize and make it right. That only happens in the private sector where businesses need to compete for your business. I just wish I could pass laws protecting me from having to pay the consequences for screwing up at work like our government officials do. I guess ultimately the last laugh is theirs as they laugh all the way to the bank with my money, because they know there isn’t anything I can do about it. They’re backed up by the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. They work together in order to keep their power and position. I keep praying for political leaders and government workers who are grateful for my working and paying taxes for their salaries and who have the integrity to do what is right.

Gary Krabill