In Sacramento County, Bureaucrats “Correct” Their Error with Property Tax Clawback

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“Tax Bill – Open Immediately” reads the envelope on a February 15, 2019, letter from the Sacramento County Administrative Services Department of Finance. As Sacramento County taxpayers might recall, they got a similar letter in October, containing their property tax bill for the year. So taxpayers had the right to wonder what’s going on with yet another tax bill and the demand to “open immediately.”

“You are receiving this letter and the accompanying tax correction bill because a required Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) direct levy assessment was omitted from your 2018-2019 annual tax property bill in error,” reads the letter from Ben Lamera, the county Director of Finance. Director Lamera does not explain how this “error” happened or who, exactly was responsible for it. But Director of Finance Lamera is certain that the charge for SAFCA Operations and Assessment, “that should have appeared on your annual property tax bill,” needs to be paid by April 10, 2019, “to avoid penalties.” So once again it’s “let’s have the wallet, Jack, or else.”

Director of Finance Lamera includes instructions if the property was sold, and for those who have impound accounts, because “lenders generally do not pay correcting bills. Taxpayers pay these bills directly to the county.” Director of Finance Lamera says, “we apologize for any inconvenience we may cause,” and provides a telephone number “if you have any questions.” That number turned out to be an endless recording. So, yes, questions remain.

Many taxpayers will not remember ever paying a “correcting bill” that showed up after they paid their property taxes. Likewise, many if not all taxpayers will find it hard to remember any “correction” that sent money back to the taxpayers. Many if not all taxpayers will recall that last year’s tax bill was already higher than the year before, without any new services from the county.

Many if not all taxpayers will contend that if somebody made an error, the county ought to eat the mistake and keep their hands out of taxpayers’ pockets. In the state with the nation’s highest income and sales taxes, and fathomless debt and unfunded liabilities, many if not all taxpayers have had it with government waste, incompetence, and greed.

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