I-TEAM: Area homeowners late on taxes blame Postal Service delays

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has uncovered another way delays with your mail could be costing you money.

Homeowners have been getting hit with penalties for paying property taxes late, and many are blaming the U.S. Postal Service.

Many property tax bills showed up in mailboxes much later than usual. Now, the I-Team is looking into how much of a factor that has become with homeowners facing late fees for paying property taxes late.

At the request of the I-Team, Cuyahoga County did a spot check of appeals filed by homeowners for property tax late fees.

Out of 261 appeals checked, 102 people claimed they had never received their tax bills.

Last week, Jose Muniz told us he got his tax bill and a lot of other mail very late. And for months, the I-Team has reported on delays with your mail.

In fact, weeks ago, Rose Orzel turned to the I-Team when she hadn’t gotten her property tax bill. She finally got it at the last minute. And, then she hand-delivered a check to the county to make sure it got there on time.

“I didn’t want to go through the hassle of even taking a chance I’d get any penalty or anything with it,” Orzel said.

But the appeals don’t just involve bills that came late. A local attorney tells us she got hit with a late fee for a check she sent that didn’t make it to the county on time. Yet, she says, she mailed it before the deadline.

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We spoke to Cuyahoga County Treasurer Chris Murray.

We asked him, what if a property owner says, ‘Blame the post office, don’t blame me?’

The treasurer told us, “We look at each case individually.”

He added, “It’s certainly worth appealing. I would advise any taxpayer that believes that they didn’t submit payment on time due to extenuating circumstances to go to our website.”

Chris Murray told us the number of people in Cuyahoga County hit with late fees is up. So is the number of appeals. He says most late fees are $50 or $100.

But, he says, through it all, homeowners are expected to pay their taxes whether they get a bill in the mail or not. In other words, homeowners  have to take personal responsibility to make sure the taxes get paid on time.

“In the state of Ohio, tax bills are mailed out twice a year. Most homeowners know that,” Murray added.

In short, confusion about the bills in the mail led to questions about checks in the mail. Now, appeals blame delays with the mail.

We also sent questions to the Postal Service as we researched this story. As of late Monday afternoon, we had not received any response.

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