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Wisconsin city overcharges elderly widow's property taxes for 24 years

Here's another reason to pay close attention to your property tax bill.

Angie France's modest Racine, Wisc., home was overvalued by city tax assessors, resulting in her getting -- and paying -- too high of a property tax bill for 24 years.

The 84-year-old widow discovered the incorrect assessment when, following her husband's death, she went ot the city to inquire about possible ways she could lower her tax obligation given her new single situation.

That's when city officials discovered that back in 1987 the original property inspector and tax assessor assumed that a pair of upper windows in her one-story home was a 500-square-foot bedroom.

The space, however, is unfinished attic.

And the entire finished area of the property is just around 700 square feet.


Racine officials have acknowledged the assessment mistake and have offered to pay France back her overcharge of $450 from her most recent property tax bill.

The city, however, is not planning to reimburse France for the other 23 years of  property tax overcharges.

Racine officials say that it's the homeowner's responsibility to dispute any property tax bills on a timely basis.

France, however, is still hoping the city will "do what's right."

"We paid for 500 square feet of living space that we never had," she told Milwaukee's Fox6 News. "It's just not fair. If I owed them, they'd want their money."

So what do you think? Is the city's right in holding its tax ground? Or should Racine pay France back all the property tax money that she and her late husband overpaid for nearly a quarter of a century?

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Jeffrey A Day

That is the way the bureacrats operate. You owe use, we have a right to collect without a single statute of limitations.

If we owe you, you have a short window to collect from us.

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