You can’t trust the Office of Tax & Revenue’s Numbers

It was just three years ago (I believe) when it was revealed that the District of Columbia’s Office of Tax & Revenue lost between $50 – $60 million over more than a 5 year period due to a handful of employees stealing money. What a huge scandal! And I, as a taxpayer in the District of Columbia, was outraged.

I’m even more outraged about something I discovered today.

I decided to check the Real Property Tax Assessment Database for projected taxes I would have to pay on my condo and my parking space by March 31, 2011. When I entered the square and the lot numbers for the condo unit, the records of the Office of Tax & Revenue stated I owed $700.19. Now, that’s odd. I then entered the square and the lot numbers for the condo’s parking space. I didn’t owe any money. Then I checked the property tax information for my house. I am current and owe no money.

Now, all three properties taxes were paid by my credit union. Before checking my account with the credit union, I sought further details about the condo’s unpaid property taxes. The Office of Tax & Revenue’s records indicate that property taxes in the amount of $840.10 was paid on or about March 31, 2010 with an unpaid balance of $700.19. These figures concern the 1st half of 2010. For the second half of 2010, the property taxes totaled $936.10 which was paid, leaving a zero balance. So, in short, the Office of Tax & Revenue’s records state I paid all taxes owed for the 2nd half of 2010 but only part of the taxes for the 1st half of 2010.

What caught my attention was the huge difference in taxes owed: $1,540.20 for the 1st half of 2010 but only $936.10 for the 2nd half of 2010. And, let me make clear, I had no unpaid taxes from previous years which carried over to the 1st half of 2010. My next step to resolve this issue was to retrieve the Real Property Tax Bill issued by the Office of Tax & Revenue.

Upon reviewing the Real Property Tax Bill for the 1st half of 2010, the amount owed by March 31, 2010 was $840.10. That’s the TOTAL AMOUNT OWED. And that was the amount the credit union paid on my behalf. So where did the phantom $700.19 come from? I don’t know. It’s very suspicious.

Based on previous encounters with the District of Columbia government, I decided to log onto my credit union’s website for proof that the credit union paid the taxes as invoiced by the Office of Tax & Revenue. But, I realized I couldn’t retrieve the information because I paid off the mortgage and the account no longer exists. Darn it! Will have to call the credit union on Tuesday.

I plan to visit the Office of Tax & Revenue in person Wednesday morning. I plan to take with me a copy of the Real Property Tax Bill showing the amount owed for the 1st half of 2010 was $840.10, not $1,540.29. I want an explanation about the phantom $700.19. This must be done in person because I don’t TRUST the Office of Tax & Revenue. I want this matter resolved promptly. I can be much more persuasive in person versus speaking to someone over the phone.

But there is a fundamental problem here. How DARE the Office of Tax & Revenue slap an outstanding tax balance on my property! The tax bill, as assessed, was paid. What if I had not happened to look at the website today? I may have received a real property tax bill for the 1st half of 2011 with a much higher amount owed, maybe with accrued interest.

The District of Columbia government is QUICK to sell properties (including mortgage free properties) for unpaid property taxes. I worked HARD to pay off my condo and now the District of Columbia is playing games. Well, that agency has picked on the wrong woman.

To protect my property rights in the future, I will log onto the Office of Tax & Revenue’s Real Property Tax Assessment Database once a month to ensure the government hasn’t slapped any additional phantom tax on my properties.

I definitely don’t trust the Office of Tax & Revenue. The agency was clueless about its employees robbing the agency (& in turn District of Columbia’s taxpayers) blind. And now I’ve discovered a major discrepancy with my tax bill. You can’t trust ANY numbers from the Office of Tax & Revenue.

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