Note from Dan: The headline above is Ritchie Duffy’s, not mine. Having owned one of the watches he’s talking about, years ago, I can understand the mistake he made. Should he have to pay for that?
By Ritchie Duffy
Today I realized that I did not pay my real estate tax and personal property taxes by the 12/5/11 due date. My wrist watch has a calendar which told me today is the 5th — the due date, so I wrote a check and proceeded to the treasurer’s office to do my civic duty.
On the way I stopped and checked my cell phone, for assurance of the date — today is the 6th — a day late. How did this happen?
My watch displays a calendar, unfortunately based on a 31 day month. November has 30 days and I had failed to re-set the calendar on 12/1 – my bad – my calendar is off by one day. I called the treasurer’s office and was told — too bad — you have incurred a 10% penalty.
They told me that if I had mailed the check yesterday it would have been fine. I asked if today’s mail had arrived yet and was told that it had not. I said I will drive to your office, hand you my tax payment, and you will be able to log it in even before it would have arrived by USPS, had I mailed it yesterday.
The treasurer, a very rude individual, told me that this is unacceptable. I tried again to reason with her, and told her that according to the statement on my tax form, that I can wait until the end of June 2012 to pay and will incur no further penalty, so why pay it now?
She said that I should be grateful that there is no interest due from 1/1/12, as was the former policy. I then told her how grateful I am for that act of kindness. Rudely and condescendingly, she refused to allow me to pay my taxes, less than 1/2 day late and avoid the penalty. Keep in mind that my check would be in her hands before the USPS would deliver yesterday’s mailed taxes.
So I told her I will be there on 6/29/12 to pay the due amount plus penalty. She was quite happy to allow me to delay my payment of taxes until 1/2 year from now.
I worked in the business world, managing people and budgets for more than 30 years and have a graduate degree in business administration — my experience and my education taught me that money today has more value than future money — apparently our county treasurer never received that training.
Later I contacted the Commissioner of Revenue, who was very polite, but told me that the treasurer controls this issue. I explained the treasurer’s rudeness and unwillingness to work with a citizen, and she was politely apologetic.
This reminds me of why so many citizens feel so strongly in a negative way toward government. It’s not just the federal or state government that people abhor — local governmental people who are so inflexible and rude deserve our ire as well.
If this is the way local governments perform it is no mystery why we have the financial problems that most local, state, and the federal government have.