I received an email the other day from my mortgage company telling me they paid my taxes on my behalf. That’s nice.
The same day, later that afternoon, I received my tax statement in the mail from the Marion County Auditor’s Office. That’s not nice.
That means the county sent my tax records to my mortgage company in California and they had time to process it, pay it and alert me all before the same office bothered to mail me my statement all of 8.5 miles away. I don’t like that.
Then, inside my tax statement (which, thanks to Mitch Daniels, is at an all-time low and my taxes have dropped another 28% over last year. Thank you, Mitch) was a form that I was required to fill out so I could prove I lived in my home and qualify for my homestead deduction.
The problem is that they didn’t bother providing a self-addressed and paid envelope. They must think very highly of their residents. First, they assume people will open the envelope. Then, they assume people will read any of it beyond “how much do/did I owe?” and then they assume that people will not lose the form long enough to fill out it’s horrible layout, provide information no one knows (local parcel number, state parcel number and the last five digits of your driver’s license number. Yes, the parcel numbers are on the tax forms you just received, but I doubt anyone notices that) and then they assume people have stamps and an envelope laying around to send it back. No online system, no envelope and a crappy form.
I bet they get about 10% of those forms back. I’m hedging my bets that Monroe County will have the highest return rate in the state because most people there are probably renters because of IU’s proximity.
This, as Doug Masson often points out, is probably a feature. The fewer people return that form, the more people get kicked off their homestead deductions and the more their taxes go up, resulting in more income for the county.
As a side note, yes, I know that when my taxes go down my county gets less revenue to do things – namely, fund schools. And, quite frankly, I don’t give a rip. I don’t have kids and I don’t believe pushing money into the system would fix anything. If it did, we’d have fixed everything by now and we’d be living in an educated utopia. Some kids are smart, some kids are dumb. The smart ones will stay smart and do good things – like filling out that homestead deduction verification form. The dumb ones will stay dumb and lazy and do nothing of value to anyone except pay higher homestead taxes because they didn’t fill out that form. That’s evolution.