Tweaking Homestead Exemption without residents knowledge
Last week I received a letter from Maiello Brungo & Maiello, LLP informing me that I had underpaid my Chartiers Valley School taxes for the year of 2012 in the amount of $0.58 and if that payment was not made within 30 days, they would begin the process of placing a tax lien ($24 filing fee) on my property, which would incur additional costs and interest if the lien was filed. I was rather surprised at the underpayment as I had paid the same amount as I had in 2011 and there was not to be an increase from 2011 to 2012 in property taxes. What a shock, no increase for Scott Township taxes, but the school district tweaked the Homestead Exemption resulting in an increase for Chartiers Valley School District. Nevertheless, I was surprised that I did not receive a phone call or at least a letter, regarding the underpayment from the tax office. Instead, my account was immediately given to a law firm for collection of $0.58 underpayment, penalty $0.06 and fee $0.06 for a grand total of $0.70.
I called the tax office for information regarding the billing and the representative apologized and said the account should not have been turned over to the law firm and suggested I call them. I did and when I asked why I had not been called regarding the issue, I was curtly told that my phone number was not given to them by the tax office. (It is better to send a letter with a $0.46 stamp for a $0.58 underpayment instead of a free phone call.) I guess they could not call the tax office for that information, or check the phone directory; I have only lived at the same address and had the same phone number for 46 years.
This is a win-win for Maiello Brungo & Maiello, LLP and a loss for the taxpayers of the school district. I have paid the amount due of $0.70 underpayment ($0.58 + $0.06 + $0.06), but now the school district has legal fees that must be paid on the $0.58 underpayment.
It seems to me that this account was mismanaged by both the tax office and law firm. I have to wonder how many others were used to enrich this firm.