City of Boston, Do not Trust Us, and No Refund

Update to my property tax overpayment issue. Read the first part here. Here is a quick summary of the situation:

Executive Summary

After some back and forth with the city, I found out that my South End Condo is classified as a mixed residential and commercial property. Therefore I have been paying more property tax for the last 7+ years. The city said:

  • - I should have noticed that the little "C" on my tax bill means I have been paying commercial tax (30+% instead of 12+%).
  • - I should have applied for reclassification 7 years ago
  • - Now they will not, by law, refund all the overpayment over the years, totalling more than  $10,000

In short, Do not trust us, and we do not refund money collected in error

Do not trust Us

Give the city credit, the city people has been nice and helpful in communication. The chairperson of the assessment department review board called me to explain the situation to me after I contacted the Mayor's Hotline on the web.  She even screen printed and emailed me all the documentation. However, during the 30 minutes phone conversation, the following exchange summarized the situation really well:

Me: Nobody would know to look at the "C" on the tax bill and question the property classification.

Chairperson: "You do check your credit card statement each month to see, if a waiter put on a $100 tip would you? You should have checked your tax bills too."

A city official is telling me I should treat my government like a bad waiter, and check everything?

Really? I cannot trust my local government for not doing their job correct? Looking at all the city services that I use, I cannot trust them? It is my job to question everything? This is sounding like a bad episode of the X-Files.

  • My children play in city parks. (How ironic, I am even on the board of the Friends of Peters Park). They drink from the water fountain. Should I now have the water quality checked periodically?
  • I drive in the city. When I reach a junction, should I get out of the car and make sure the traffic like in the other direction is red before moving forward?
  • Should I start shadowing our Mayor to every meeting and question every decisions the city makes? Where does it start? Where does it end? A bit absurd?

No Refund

If I find a problem, do not expect the city to fix it? I wonder, if the tax error was not in the city's favor, but in mine, would they also not come after me, by law? If I run a restaurant assessed at 2 million dolllars for 7 years and I have been paying residential only tax on the property. Once they found out, would they tell me "oh don't worry, we won't ask for the extra, say 2 million dollars assessment times 18% tax difference times 7 years = 252,000.? Really?

How you can Help

  • If you have access to news organization, tell them do a story.
  • If you are a city official that can help, let me know ( p k @ p k s h i u . c o m )