Several New York City property owners received bills for transfer taxes that had already been paid, following an administrative bungle at the Department of Finance.
The city mailed tax bills to 5,600 buyers and sellers, the New York Post reported, but some were accidentally sent to people who’d already paid up.
In one case, Queens condominium owner Diana Calabrese was sent a $3,351 charge that had been paid in 2009. She was threatened by a department employee, who said her wages would be withheld unless she paid, according to her lawyer.
“It is mind-boggling that although the transfer occurred in 2009, eight years later the city is making a claim which clearly it was not entitled to do,” Calabrese’s attorney Errol Brett wrote in a letter to the agency last month, according to the newspaper. “There seems to be a definite pattern by your agency going back a number of years seeking payment for monies already paid.” Brett provided a copy of check from 2009 that showed the taxes had been paid by the seller.
In another instance, according to Brett, one of his now-deceased clients was billed for $6,618 — even though taxes had dealt with in 2010.
A spokesperson for the city told the Post transfer records were moved from one computer system to another, and penalties were sent out to group of people — including some who should not have been contacted. She said the city will forgo all unpaid debts, and anyone who’d paid in recent weeks will be reimbursed.
The Real Deal recently examined four key city and state bodies — including the Department of Finance — and found the agencies are hampered by red tape, complex bureaucracy and antiquated systems. [NYP] — Miriam Hall