A few weeks ago I realized that the City of Hartford had not sent me my tax bill. I had received one at this address before, as well as at my previous residence in the city. I investigated my problem on the City’s website and found it to be the very first question on the page:
Q: What if I never received a tax bill?
A: Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) Section 12-130 states “…failure to send out any… tax bill shall not invalidate the tax….” You are not exempt from payment of all taxes and all interest charges. If you do not receive a bill for which you are responsible, call the Tax Collectors Office at (860) 757-9630
Personally, I don’t agree with that policy, but there’s nothing I can do about it, so I called the number to find out what was up with my lack of bill. The woman on the other end of the line said that my address was listed incorrectly in the computer. This was probably my fault. Moving can be chaotic and not everything gets updated as it should. I gave her my new address. She said that a bill would be sent to my “new” address (I’ve been here for over a year now, so these details really should be ironed out).
I have yet to receive the bill.
I’ve waited patiently for the bill so that I could just send my check in, rather than brave the throngs of angry taxpayers surely clogging City Hall. The absolute deadline of August 4th is too close for me to risk mailing something, even if it’s only needing to travel 2.5 miles down the street. I do try to be law-abiding taxpayer, so I grumpily headed off the City Hall to stand in line with other grumpy people.
Wait, did I say line? I meant crazy lump of people crowding in a doorway. Ever see carp strike a piece of bread? There was about that much decorum involved.
I’m wondering why the current method of doing things is acceptable. First of all, we should have a 21st century option that allows us to pay our taxes online by credit/debit/electronic check or whatever. Hell, give me PayPal. I can pay my telephone and electricity bills online. I can do grocery shopping online. I know that not everyone has internet access or the desire to pay this way, so it should just be an option.
For those wanting to pay in person, they should not have to deal with such chaos as was the case today. There was a deli ticket system, but people were cutting in front of others to grab numbers. Every so often an employee would come out and instruct people as to what the process was. People were expected to pull a number and sit down to wait for their numbers to be called. This was not totally clear. Then, after getting information, they would get into another line for the cashier. There could have been signs or someone outside keeping things in order. It was not clear from existing signage what methods of payment were acceptable. Only after I handed over my card was I told that there was an additional $2 fee to use Mastercard. I wrote them a check after deciding I was spending enough money.
The information clerk told me that my address had not been updated. This would explain why I still had not received a tax bill, even after trying to straighten this out over the phone a few weeks ago. Is it any wonder why people don’t bother paying their taxes? Nobody is going out of his way to make the process any easier. And really, when asking people to shell out money, it seems like a no-brainer to take as much of the pain out of the process as is possible.