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.


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


20 Responses to “There are only two things certain in life, death & taxes, but not always”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Rats indeed. Bummer. Love that they had to modify their form letter to include the “oops we made a mistake” line.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Oh, Audrey, I feel your pain!!!! Hmmmmm, good point……”computer error” can always be traced back to the human element who did the data entry (after all, a computer can only work with what is inputted and can’t think on its own……………………………..or can it?????? Maybe in Hollywood……………sigh……..)

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    Computers [and software] didn’t develop themselves; a human is always behind an error in some fashion or other.

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    “I want to apologize”

    Congratulations to whoever wrote the letter for revealing their humanity. To err is human but to repeat the errror 35,000 times a second requires a computer.

  5. Oh My Goodness – at least you figured it out! I tend to stop in my tracks when I hear on the news that someone receive a thousands if not millions dollar cell phone bill or energy bill – wth?!? Lately it is the airlines and airport security being stopped for hours due to technology breakdowns – geez!

    Enjoy Your Day 🙂

  6. Ugh. I just paid ours a couple of days ago, online (I always wait until close to the deadline), so I suppose I’ll get no such notice. But, wow – they really screwed up there, didn’t they?

  7. hotlyspiced Says:

    What a shame! We don’t pay property taxes here although we do pay council rates every quarter. We have to pay a State tax when we purchase a property and it’s an iniquitous amount of money. On the last property we bought it was just under $100,000. I try not to think about the better uses for that money xx

  8. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars,,,”

  9. Littlesundog Says:

    My first thought was how much postage was wasted and how many employee hours were spent correcting this blunder. 😦

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