We got an e-mail from the Santa Clara County Department of Tax and Collections about the property tax payment due April 10 (see below). The purpose of the e-mail was to let us know that payments could no longer be made in person at their offices. But, of course, there are a variety of electronic payment methods available as well as sending a paper check.
There’s a potential problem with mailing a check. The sender usually licks the glue on the envelope to seal it. Saliva presumably can host COVID-19. Explain how this protects workers in the office. And compare it to just requiring people appearing in person to wear masks and nitrile gloves.
Unlike the Internal Revenue Service, however, the County has not adjusted the payment due date. By law, they can’t do this. Their website contains an interesting update.
To Prevent the Spread of the Coronavirus, In-Person Payments are Temporarily Unavailable
We understand and share the public’s anxiety and concern about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While we cannot change the April 10 deadline for the Second Installment of Property Taxes because critical county services, schools, and local financial obligations are dependent on those scheduled revenues, we can waive penalties, costs, or other charges resulting from tax delinquency due to reasonable cause and circumstances related to this crisis.
Property owners can take advantage of the partial payment program and make multiple partial payments on the installment due.
We will not be providing in-person services or accepting in-person payment of property taxes until further notice. The Department is encouraging property owners to take advantage of other payment alternatives. These include mailing or electronic payments. We are asking property owners to make payments from the convenience of their homes. As conditions improve, and with guidance from the Public Health Officer, we will inform you when we resume in-person services.
Note the weasel words: “we can waive penalties, costs, or other charges resulting from tax delinquency due to reasonable cause and circumstances related to this crisis.” The key word is can. That’s not the same as will. This invites political influence, cronyism, and/or outright corruption. And, of course, this expands the bureaucracy as employees must evaluate each case. It’s easy to predict that there will be tens of thousands of appeals.