Letter: I Paid Thousands for City’s Error

To the Editor:

I just received a letter from the tax assessor’s office saying my property value had dropped considerably. Some errors had been made, and I have been paying taxes on things I don’t own. This came to light when I was getting a permit for a shed. When a city official came to assess the shed, he saw the errors and corrected them. So I very much appreciate that.

I called the tax assessor’s office for information on what happened. I was paying taxes on an in-ground pool instead of an above-ground one. Evidently, a new software program was installed three years ago and all above-ground pools were listed as being in-ground. Also, all stone foundations went in as poured. The assessment also indicated that my barn was built in 1996 instead of 1950.

I was informed that the city will not refund money you have overpaid, even when the overpayment is due to errors made by the city. The overpayment is considered a gift. It is your responsibility to know what you’re paying property taxes on.

You have a right to ask for a property record card. It has all the information about your property and what you’re paying taxes on. The problem, as I explained, was that until I got the information in the mail, I didn’t know the errors existed. How would I have known? It was a computer mistake. It’s not like anything changed.

I have lived in my house in Lebanon for 20 years. Why haven’t I ever received a property record card before? Why don’t they send you one every time they do an assessment? It’s not like it’s my first assessment. That’s when I learned that the tax office really has no accountability. It has no responsibility to inform you about anything.

So be your own advocate. Make the phone call. Ask the tax assessor’s office for a report on what you’re paying taxes on. It made a difference of many thousands of dollars for me. So learn from my mistake and call your tax office. The Lebanon tax office number is 448-1499.

Kathy Dellabough