Thursday, September 27, 2007

Neighborly conundrum

"Any puzzling question or problem."

By chance I happened on a neighbor (all of us are neighbors) who not only had his property grossly over assessed to almost a half million dollars, there were other troubling circumstances.

No longer physically able to drive they had recently opted for a mail box out front instead of the Post Office box. The Postmaster of course failed to deliver their Tax Notice returning it three (3) times. Returned because the County had a wrong P.O. Bx address. They never received the "shocking tax notice" until 14 September, too late to recover from the tax increase shock nor time to think of how to appeal. They were confused and upset but did not know what to do. The final date for an appeal had passed so they thought they were just out of luck and would have to sacrifice over the winter months. This could be literally life threatening.

After the trip downtown with the spouse and handicapped son, I learned a late appeal was possible. The pictures I took of the place proved very helpful with the assistant assessor in a private sit-down meeting. He was touched and promised to personally see that the late appeal was approved. I then filed for the "Circuit Breaker" as the family of three survived on less than $20,000 gross income a year. The "Circuit Breaker" provides for up to $800 off property taxes when qualified. Only last year's IRS 1040 is required as proof.

Now here is the "conundrum". How many similar situations are there out there? It haunts me and should all of us "Wing men and ladies". I can not go door-to-door asking "So how much are you living on?" I would likely have the door slammed in my face as they said "None of your ___$%#@&^* business". Still it is troubling.

The only thing I can come up with is this. If you think there might be a situation where your neighbor is 65 or older, (or a widow or widower of any age) and struggling to make ends meet. If you know your neighbor well enough to simply knock at the door and in a tactful conversation ask if they have appealed their property tax notification. And then find a way to bring up the Circuit Breaker provision which says, "You qualify, if you are age 65 or older or a widow or widower of any age and your total household income for 2006 was less than $26,941."

Then simply call me (801-745-1419) and I will take them downtown and do their paperwork for them. I am haunted by the prospects that there are more out there who will be unable to pay for heat, food, or medications in order to pay these gross over assessed property taxes.

If you can help out please take the extra step to check on your neighbor if you think the above situation may be applicable.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is a very thoughtful and generous offer. We should all take a close look at our neighborhoods and see if any others may have been overlooked, or simply did not know how to appeal. Thanks for your efforts.
Richard Sorensen