Aside from huge tax bills, another thing that gets people madder than heck is when government employees screw-up. Now everyone is human and we all screw-up from time to time, but when a screw-up ruins someones life or bring to light a hugely unfair system is when people start becoming less and less forgiving.
A rural Crown Point man said he learned the hard way Wednesday taxpayers can only depend on themselves to have and hold their property tax deductions.
Norman R. Walters said the county failed to give him credit for his mortgage exemption for the last 13 years, but they still refuse to give him a complete refund.
Dan Repay, tax director for the county auditor’s office, confirmed no taxpayer can be compensated for 13 years of overtaxing.
“The law only lets us go back to correct three years,” Repay said. “I apologize to the gentleman, but I can’t go beyond the law.”
Repay said his office struggles to manage a variety of exemptions on 240,000 separate parcels of land. He said it is ultimately the taxpayers’ responsibility to ensure their exemptions are in order.
The retired steelworker said he has more than an average attachment to his house, sitting on more than an acre in Holiday Creek subdivision southeast of the city limits. He said he has been living there since 1974.
“I built my own home,” Walters said. “I’ve never missed a tax payment, and this last bill went up 26 percent.”
Walters, 66, living on a fixed income, said he began investigating whether to pay off the remainder of his mortgage or keep it and the mortgage exemption — $3,000 subtracted from the property’s assessed value — as a hedge against the rising property taxes.
His investigation led to the discovery he didn’t have a mortgage exemption.
“They told me I hadn’t had one since 1979,” Walters said.
Walters said he couldn’t believe what he was told, so he rummaged through his records and found a receipt, dated 1994, that he had filed for an exemption when he refinanced his home under the administration of former county Auditor Anna Anton.
Walters said he took his 1994 document back to the county complex and was told he is entitled to a refund — but only for the last three tax years, with interest, or about $194.
“It should be four times that amount, and they said I have to pay taxes on my refund,” Walters said. “Look, its not my fault.”
And now the second one:
A Muncie woman says she is trying to make ends meet after the government mixed up her Social Security benefits following her supposed death.
Toni Anderson, 60, said her problems began after her husband, John, died Nov. 8. She went to a local Social Security office to enroll for widow’s benefits and was told that records indicated she, not her husband, had died.
Anderson, who is disabled, already received supplementary security income. The Social Security office secured those benefits for December, she said, but she has not received any more – or widow’s benefits – since that $623 check, which was made out to her husband.
The government also sent a letter to her deceased husband, dated Nov. 16. It begins, “Dear Mr. Anderson: Our condolences on the loss of Mrs. Anderson …”
A Chicago-based regional communications director for the Social Security Administration declined to comment when contacted for a story by The Star Press.
Anderson said the regional official and a manager at the local Social Security office both contacted her this week and said they were working to correct the problem.
“In their eyes, I don’t know whether I’m dead or not still,” Anderson said. “Last I heard, I’m still dead.”
Any wonder why taxpayers are up in arms?