Question: We have a complaint about the city tax department. My husband splits a $373-a-year tax bill with two other people, because there are three houses on one lot. They get billed twice a year. The other two owners received their separate bills in August and paid them. My husband never received his. By the time he realized he did not receive a bill, it was September. On Sept. 15, he went to the tax office and was told that he had to pay a total of $69.20 -- $62.28 in taxes; a penalty of $6.23; and interest of 69 cents. The clerk checked the record and confirmed that he wasn't sent a bill for August. He was told that no matter what the reason, if he was late with his payment, he had to pay the penalty. Why does he have to pay if he didn't receive a bill?
Property tax due,
with or without bill
Answer: Your husband's name was "inadvertently" removed as an owner of the property because of an exemption claim for another piece of property, which resulted in his not being sent the August bill.
Although city officials admit that error, they say that does not excuse your husband from paying his bill. They cite Section 8-3.1(b) of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu: "The director shall mail, postage repaid, or deliver, each year on or before the billing dates as provided for ... to all known persons assessed for real property taxes for such year, respectively ... but no person shall be excused from the payment of any tax or delinquent penalties thereon by reason of failure on such person's part to receive, or failure on the part of the director to mail or deliver such bill."
Also, although you did not receive a bill, the other two owners were sent bills reflecting the full amount of taxes due, according to city tax officials.
Your husband should have received an explanation of all this from Roy Amemiya Jr., city director of budget and fiscal services.
Amemiya said he is prohibited from waiving the penalty and interest assessed for the reasons explained.
Q: I am looking to see if I can get someone to take me to a North Shore nursing home to visit my husband at least once a month. I do not drive a car and it is so hard to find someone to take me. I know there are buses that pass by there, but I have problems walking at times. The bus stop coming back is far to walk with my sore knee. Do you know of anyone who can help? I am willing to pay for the gas.
A: If any readers have any leads on who might be able to help in such a case, please call Kokua Line, 525-8686, and leave a message.
Tax volunteers neededThe AARP is looking for volunteers for its AARP Tax-Aide Program, sponsored jointly with the Internal Revenue Service. The free service, the nation's largest volunteer-run tax-preparation service, helps taxpayers file federal and state returns.
Classroom training begins in January. Volunteers are expected to serve a minimum of four hours a week at a site in their area up to the April 15 tax-filing deadline.
You do not need to be an AARP member to volunteer or to receive help. For information, call Earle Gates, 395-4846; John Renn, 623-1571; or 1-888-227-7669.
MahaloTo Otis, who helped tow our car on Saturday, Sept. 16. May he have many blessings. -- No name
AuweI go to Fort Street Mall, by Burger King, often. The odor of urine is terrible. Something should be done. -- Anonymous
Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
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