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County won't permit man to pay overdue property tax bill with 33,000 pennies

This happens every so often all across the country. Folks ticked off with a tax bill try to make a statement with their payment method.

The latest incident (or at least the latest that I've read about) happened in Cle Ellum, Wash., where Ron Spears carted 33,000 pennies into the Kittitas County Treasurer's Office to pay a $330 past due tax bill.

There are a few interesting things about this attempted payment.

First, Spears is on the town's City Council.

Second, the original bill was for $34. Spears ignored multiple payment notices, which meant penalties and interest charges kicked in, upping his eventual bill.

Finally, public officials need to learn that specificity counts.

As for Spears being a town leader who's delinquent in paying his taxes, that just goes to show that members of Congress aren't alone in their inability to follow tax rules. That doesn't excuse any of them at any level of government, it just is what it is.

As for the way Spears' property tax bill ballooned to almost 10 times its original size, well he has a point that the amount is outrageous. But such severe consequences for nonpayment of taxes are the point.

If you don't agree with the bill, protest it before it's due.

When the amount due is finalized, then pay your tax bill on time, or make some arrangement when you truly can't come up with the money, and it won't cost you so much.

Hands rolling coins

Finally, Spears told the Ellensburg Daily Record that a letter he got from the county indicated he could pay with cash, a cashier's check or a money order.

"As far as I've been able to figure out, pennies are still legal tender," Spears told the paper. "If there had been a footnote on that letter saying they would not accept coins then I wouldn't have even bothered doing it."

The County Treasurer turned down the pennies because she didn't have the staff resources to confirm that the coin rolls did indeed contain $330 worth of pennies.

I suspect the county's form letter noting acceptable payment methods has already been rewritten.

And as for the taxes due, Spears says he'll pay the bill and ancillary charges by today's deadline in a more conventional monetary manner.

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Evan, you are a rabble-rouser! ;-D


If he REALLY wanted to cause a problem I bet he could bring an action against the town for not taking US Legal Tender.

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