Taped Messages Leave Her Vexed--and Taxed

With the coming of the summer solstice and the departure of the snowbirds back to Oregon, Washington, Canada and Minnesota, the traffic in the desert is lighter and the supermarkets are more usable.

But tax collectors remain as ubiquitous as December snowbirds and are addicted to forms at any time of year.

I am in the midst of another bureaucratic maze involving the Riverside County tax collector's office.

I find that I'm demoralized by all the offices that have recordings that purport to tell you everything you want to know about their offices. The voice of the man on the recording is firm and avuncular, and I frantically try to write down whatever he is saying that might apply to my question.

But I always think that the next suggestion he snaps at me will be closer to what I really want to know so I wait until the entire thing is over, then repeated in Spanish and I still don't know what to do.

By what snarl of thought have they determined that I will ask precisely the question which will fit into one of their slots?

I called the other day to the Riverside tax collector's office to ask why my tax bill was so much higher than it had been in Pasadena. Before I moved down here, I was told that my Prop. 13 tax rate would be transferable to Riverside County. And it is. But you have to apply for it.

This I was told when I received a very large tax bill and called the tax collector's office and a woman said, "Just a minute and I will call up your file."

My file must have been in the south 40 because I waited 11 minutes. The woman said the computers were slow that day because there was so much material being fed into them. She was pleasant and carefully read me the data concerning my granddaughter, also called Zan Thompson.

I explained that she had reached the data concerning my granddaughter, who lives in a another town.

I told her I wanted to know how to take advantage of the Prop. 13 property tax rate. She said, "We call it Prop. 90."

I didn't care if she called it Rover, just so I got the rate transferred. Prop. 13 has been blamed for everything from dull lifeless hair to rent control, but it lowered my property taxes and I wanted it.

She said she would send me an application and that it would take several weeks to unwind my problem. "Do I have to pay this first amount in July?" I asked.

How silly. Of course. And she said to send a copy of my last year's tax bill from Mr. H. B. Alvord, the tax collector for Los Angeles County.

I have spent this day listening to their recording in English and Spanish and being told that if I get a busy signal, it means there are no available operators and to try again. Each time I try, it is a long distance call and soon I will have nibbled away all of the money I am trying to save by taking advantage of Props. 13 or 90.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World