Nearly 1,000 residents of the Cleveland suburb of Lorain, Ohio, flooded the city treasurer’s office last week after more than 10,000 people received subpoenas to appear at 9:00 a.m. on August 17 over delinquent taxes.
According to local reports, the line snaked around the block as residents waited their turn to settle their tax issues with the city — and most were hopping mad about the inconvenience and the city of Lorain’s poor planning.
“We all got a subpoena for the same time at the same place to show up here for our city taxes. So here I am,” Merryman said. “I am a bit salty because I didn’t file mine because I am waiting for Nesco Resources to fix my W-2, which they said I worked in a different city and I did not.”
“I was given 45 minutes by my boss to make it down there and back, there was just no way that I would have been able to make that happen,” a Lorain resident told a local blog called Scumbagged. “There’s lines lining up around the corner of 4 different buildings, it’s insane.”
“This is absolutely nuts,” Lorain resident Angela Parks told The Morning Journal. “I’ve been in the line for a half hour and can’t see the end.”
“There was something that wasn’t filed properly, and I think that is what you have with most people,” Parks said. “I have never seen anything like this.”
“People have to miss work because of this. It’s ridiculous being in this line that won’t end anytime soon,” she added.
Many people took to Twitter to voice their frustrations:
Anybody wait to pay their taxes? The scene outside Lorain Treasurer's Office. pic.twitter.com/qy3yaMFLLK
— Zachary Srnis (@MJ_ZachSrnis) August 17, 2018
This is the line outside the Lorain Income Tax Department this morning. Sounds like everyone was scheduled for 9 a.m. pic.twitter.com/x9x0DalZZt
— Jen Steer (@jensteer) August 17, 2018
Lorain Treasurers office is gonna be the death of me I think
— LizardQueen 🌼 (@tinytotliz) August 17, 2018
Terro Soto, the Lorain city treasurer, told The Chronicle-Telegram that the city resorted to subpoenas after spending months trying to contact residents by mail and via newspaper and social media notices.
“They did not file by April 15, so the first week in June we sent them a notice called a delinquent tax filing,” Soto said. “They did not answer to that letter. Now it is almost three months later.”
“These people needed to file local city taxes and they had to file by the due date this year, which they got two extra days and the deadline was April 17,” she explained. “They did not file their city of Lorain income tax. In the state of Ohio, you have to pay where you work and file where you live.”
She defended the move, explaining that it is the city’s duty. “I have an obligation to collect taxes, which is the revenue that is rightfully due to the city of Lorain and put in the general fund,” she said. “Everyone wants to complain, but they don’t want to go ahead and take the responsibility of being a taxpayer.”
Still, many taxpayers weren’t convinced that the tax office acted appropriately. They complained about long wait times and the poor planning that resulted in hundreds of residents showing up at the same time to the tax office that was clearly not prepared to deal with such a large crowd.
One woman told Scumbagged, “This is bulls**t,” adding that she only “needed a week to make the payments or to schedule a payment plan”.
Another Lorain resident told the blog, “I either stand here in line or go to jail.”
According to local reports, many residents gave up and went home, citing a need to return to work or frustration with the whole process.
A deputy clerk told WKYC that the tax office met with around 800 people on the 17th. Those who didn’t appear will have to come back next week, the clerk said.
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