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Joanne Lastowski: A taxpayer’s lament after 37 good years

To the editor:

I can only say that the tax billing procedures in the city of Northampton are convoluted at best. For the first time in 37 years, I was remiss in paying my tax bill on time. As soon as I discovered my error, I sent payment, knowing that there would be interest.

I thought, “Maybe they just add it to the next bill.”

Well, no.

Today I received a bill for interest, $9.90 + .15 + $25 for a demand on the $9.90 owed, for which I never received a bill.

I called the collector’s office and was told that I should have received a bill for the $9.90 (which I didn’t) and that it wasn’t paid. Thus the demand.

However, she wasn’t able to locate any record of the bill being sent. I said that I thought it unfair that I was being billed for a demand on a bill that I never received. She called me back later saying that my payment was postmarked the day after they send out demands for tax bills, and that is why I didn’t receive a bill for interest. So, after 37 years of faithful, on time tax payments, I owe $25 on a non-existent interest bill of $9.90.

The person that I was speaking to said that maybe I should have called when I sent in my payment to find out the amount of interest. I thought the city might have some responsibility for letting me know.

The most interesting part is that the bill is due July 16, but interest continues to accrue until they receive your check. I had to call back to add 5 cents interest to the total so they wouldn’t send another bill for .05 with a $25 demand. The woman on the phone said, “Oh, I don’t think pennies will matter at this point.”

Apparently they do!

Joanne Lastowski


Legacy Comments2

This very thing happened to me just a month ago on my excise tax bill that I never got. I went in to discuss the Demand fee, which I found rather aggressive, they were rude and unwilling to discuss it. My family has been paying taxes on the same property going on 100 years!! I have never missed a beat on my payments since I have owned the home for 14 years. And then when I used my debit card to pay for it....they charged me another $2.75 to process it. Some fund raisers they are. Thanks for letting us know about your story. Rachel A. Rice

Thank you for writing this. A similar thing happened to me a few years ago. Hope your letter will get the attention of those who can do something about it.

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