City Filing Tax Liens for 1 Penny?

November 19, 2008

Check out this article from the Sun Chronicle out of Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Apparently, the City of Attleboro mailed a Past Due Tax Statement to a blind, elderly home owner threatening to place a lien on her home for $48 if the 1 cent overdue balance was not paid by a certain date.

Of course, the media tried to make out like the government was to be shamed because the bill went to a homeowner who was blind and elderly. This is foolish. They are adding this to the story only to create more of a story than it is. If someone is late on the taxes that they legally owe, what does it matter how old they are or whether or not they are blind? The City has a right to collect, regardless.

To me, the real story is that they are trying to collect 1 cent from anyone. It cost more to mail the bill. Their excuse was that if would be fiscally irresponsible for staff to sort through the invoices prior to mailing them and pull out the ones they do not want to mail. I would agree with that statement, but to me this is just another example of a government being inefficient and wasteful. When I was in corporate accounting, we ran into the same issues but we put controls within our system that prevented these foolish amounts from being billed. It cost way more to bill them then it could possibly recover in collections. What not put a control in the computer that does not bill anything less than $25 or $50 – or whatever the amount should be to make it worth while.

As I said, just another example of government waste and inefficiency.