Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

There are only two things certain in life, death & taxes, but not always October 15, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:01 AM
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FOR A FLEETING MOMENT I thought I’d made an error.

You know that moment—when you think your luck has shifted and your day is about to become very good.

That happened last Friday when I received a letter from the Rice County Auditor-Treasurer’s office. Inside I found my check for payment of my second half property taxes. The check was being returned, the correspondence noted, because all taxes were already paid.

What? Had I made an error? I checked my records. No, no mistake. For a moment I considered that perhaps an anonymous philanthropist had paid my taxes.

Within the hour, I was at the Auditor-Treasurer’s office inquiring. Computer problems, the employee explained, resulted in the erroneous check return. I still owed $311 and could expect a follow-up letter.

Sure enough, the next day a letter arrived:

A snippet of the letter I received with identifying info cropped.

A snippet of the letter I received with identifying info cropped.

Rats.

How many other Rice County property owners received the first letter and momentarily celebrated? Legally, would a property owner need to pay his/her taxes if he/she received a “paid in full” notice like I got?

Why wasn’t the error caught before the initial letter was mailed? Are “issues with our computers” truly “issues with our computers?” Or can issues be traced to a human?

And, yes, I got a receipt from the county employee after my office visit. Proof that I’d paid my taxes. In full.

If you haven’t yet paid your property taxes and live in Minnesota, your second half payment is due today, October 15. Unless, of course, a mysterious benefactor has secretly paid on your behalf.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling