Monday, July 30, 2012
Help Me Howard: Taxed for What?
Every one of us has to pay taxes. But how would you feel if you were being taxed for years for something you were not getting? One man uncovered that, but also discovered he could not get his tax money back. So he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- In the 1990s, Emanuel Roosevelt decided he wanted to be ready for retirement.
So he bought this small apartment building.
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: "You gotta make sure you have income, enough income to be able to support the things you wanna do."
Being a landlord has its headaches, of course. But Emanuel never expected garbage pickup to be one of them.
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: "The City of Miami was providing commercial waste service up through about 1997."
In 1998, the City of Miami stopped picking up commercial trash. So Emanuel hired a private company.
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: "I've had my own private hauler since about 1997, 1998."
For 10 years, he paid the company to pick up trash at his apartment complex.
Little did he know for 10 years he was also paying the City of Miam to not pick up his trash.
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: I started to notice that a solid waste charge was appearing on my tax bill."
Have you ever closely read your tax bill? Emanuel finally did. Went below the school tax fee, past the inland navigation fee, past the library tax. The tax to retire Miami's debt and down near the bottom Emanuel discovered he had been paying the city a fee for garbage pickup.
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: "The City of Miami has been charging me between $650 and $750 for all of those years. $650 to $750 per year since 1997. Its in excess of $7,000."
Emanuel was surprised and when he tried to contact his Miami City Commissioner, he was stunned at the run-around he got.
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: "So I spoke to her office manager Mr. Chavez and he in turn gave me a phone number for an individual named Mr. Caldwell who was the director of solid waste. In the process Mr. Caldwell gave me a number for the billing for the City of Miami."
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: "Told me I needed to go to the solid waste building and I went there and they told me you in the wrong place."
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: "You need to go to the building on 2nd street. I went there and got no place. They told me oh, you need to go to the 140 building and I went to the 140 building and nothing happened at the 140 building."
Emanuel says no-one at the cash strapped city knew they had been charging him for commercial garbage pickup, a service they stopped providing back in 1998 and worst of all, he says no-one seemed too concerned about their annual mistake.
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: "I think its ridiculous for them not to have noticed but I also think it is ridiculous for them not to try and help me seeing as how they billed me in error."
Well Howard, you dont have to walk far to find a person who thinks governments waste tax money, but when they take it for a service they stopped providing years ago, do they have to give it back to the taxpayer?
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes by state law the city has to return the money going back four years. However the city took Emanuels money for 10 years for a serviced they did not provide and they should have to return it all thats the right thing to do."
We then contacted the City of Miami for two months they tried to figure out how this happened. They discovered their records showed Emanuels commercial apartment was listed as a residential complex where garbage was picked.
At the same time we contacted Jerry Gomez with the Miami-Dade County tax collectors office and he helped get this cleared up. He checked the records and showed us that Emanuel had paid for garbage collection for 10 years, totaling $6,254. Gomez then sent that proof to the City of Miami. When he did, the City of Miami agreed to write Emanual a check for $6,254.
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: "I feel great."
Emanuel will be getting his money and he can use it to pay his property taxes.
Emanuel Roosevelt, Taxed for What?: "I appreciate all that Channel 7 has done. I think they are the motivating factor to even coming to this point in this process."
Patrick Fraser: "Give the City of Miami credit they took the taxpayers money and while legally they could have only returned part of it. They treated Emanuel like they would want to be treated and returned all his money. And speaking of taxes, go to the property appraisers webpage to check your tax bill to make sure you arent paying for something you arent getting. The links are on our website at wsvn.com.
Feel like you are being treated like garbage? Ready for someone to come in and clean up? Contact us, Its not taxing for us its just reading a law book a first grader can read.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Broward County: http://www.bcpa.net/
Miami-Dade County: http://www.co.miami-dade.fl.us/pa/
Monroe County: http://www.mcpafl.org/